TRENTON – For the second time this year, the leading Democratic legislators in New Jersey have pulled the plug Legislation on the legalization of cannabis sales for recreational use that nullifies all probability. Governor Phil Murphy will redeem a major election pledge before 2021.
Instead, legislators adopted a resolution on Monday to include a recreational issue in the November 2020 vote. The resolution would require both chambers of the state legislature to vote by a majority of three-fifths in a year or by a simple majority in successive years.
"We have made further attempts to generate additional support in the Senate to legally achieve this, but we acknowledge that the votes are simply not there. We respect the positions that legislators have taken in relation to an issue e of conscience, "said Senate President Steve Sweeney in a joint statement with Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union), who is the main sponsor of the Law on the Legalization of Cannabis, NJ S2703 (18R) had been in the House of Lords.  While high-ranking lawmakers had telegraphed the possibility of a referendum to legalize cannabis, Monday's announcement came less than three hours after Scutari held a press conference with Deputy Jamel Holley (D -Union) and pro-cannabis groups to demand this action on the recreational use bill.
The Statehouse press conference, which involved nearly a dozen faith, activist, business and labor associations, was to lobby the lobbying efforts for Stimulating recreational activities – what Sweeney said the Legislature in the session of the lame duck n would take into account.
"The time is ripe for action," Scutari said, citing data from 2017 that points to strong racial differences in arrests of marijuana. We're getting closer than we've ever been, now we have to act, I can tell you that we're discussing this on the highest levels of the statehouse. "
As close as they were, it was not close enough. Shortly after the end of the Scutari press conference, the Senate majority office issued its joint statement with Sweeney, saying the time for immediate action had expired.
Scutari said in an interview that he believed that he and Sweeney had between 18 and 20 Senate votes in support of his legislation at the time the bill was drawn up. You need 21 yes votes for sharing. The window for transit became much tighter on Friday when Senator Declan O'Scanlon said he would not repay a bill for the use of recreational facilities during the current legislature.
Even without the Republican from Monmouth, legislators, activists and administrators believed there was still time to cast the necessary votes in the House of Lords, sources POLITICO said. According to a government official, the deadline for the submission of a decision on a campaigning initiative will not be until December, when Murphy and Sweeney could have boosted support among the reluctant Democrats.
These efforts would probably have been unsuccessful, Scutari said.
"We could not wait any longer, we tried to get as many votes as possible because it's all about lame duck, I'm not sure we can nail people," Scutari told POLITICO. This is the surest way. "
Regardless, as soon as it became clear that voters would be able to decide on the issue, a second government official declared that the prospect of persuading the legislator to use leisure time bill has become much more difficult.
"It's a very personal matter and they think about it in different ways. Once you really talk about a referendum, it's hard to get people to go the other way [and vote ‘yes’]"said the official.
Murphy, who made himself strong on a pro-cannabis platform in London in 2017, said he was disappointed with the announcement but in a statement that he has "confidence that the people of New Jersey will put us on the right side of the story when they vote next November."
At the end of this legislature, New Jersey will come a step closer to to eliminate a historical injustice and achieve what I have been campaigning for for more than three years, "said the governor.
Several surveys published over the past two years suggest solid development The majority of New Jersey residents support the legalization of marijuana. Nevertheless, NJ RAMP – a member of the anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana – has already announced that it will fight the ballot box.
Should voters approve the referendum, it would be up to legislators to take action to give the cannabis regulatory commission, previously established by the medical marijuana legislation adopted earlier this year, oversight of the adult consumer industry.
"We lost some votes in the Senate. [but] The campaign is still going on," said Holley, who had been a main sponsor of the Assembly's Leisure Use Act. "I will continue to stand up for it and address the issues that I have raised since the first day regarding the damage to minorities."
Monday's announcement marks the completion of a long odyssey for the Democratic Recovery Bill After months of negotiations between Murphy, Sweeney and Assembly spokesman Craig Coughlin, a vote was originally scheduled for March.
This vote was scuttled after Sweeney and Murphy failed to get the required 21 votes in the House of Lords. A majority of the members of the Assembly supported the bill.
Two months later, in the midst of an escalating feud between Murphy and Democratic mediator George Norcross regarding tax incentives, Sweeney said there was no viable way to pass the law and made the government's efforts to unilaterally expand, responsible for New Jersey's medical marijuana program.
Sweeney reversed the course several months later, saying he wanted to push the legislation forward with some technical revisions to accommodate the regulatory changes and reforms to criminal justice introduced by the new law on medical marijuana, NJ A20 (18R) have since been incorporated into subsequent legislation.
Both bills had previously been linked to the fate of recreational use legislation.