State Watch

New Jersey marijuana legalization off the table ‘at this time,’ top state lawmaker says

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New Jersey’s top state lawmaker announced Wednesday that the legislature will not pursue legalizing recreational marijuana this year.

State Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D) said lawmakers will ask New Jersey voters to decide whether to legalize marijuana in November 2020, according to

“We will move forward with the expansion of our medical cannabis program as well as the progressive social justice reforms in the expungement legislation,” Sweeney said on Twitter. “We will not, however, pursue the legalization of adult use marijuana at this time.”

Until the measure moves forward in the state legislature, Sweeney said lawmakers will push forward two related bills that would expand New Jersey’s medical marijuana program and wipe clean the records of residents with past convictions for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

Legalizing marijuana was a key campaign promise and major priority for New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D), who called for the legislature to take it up in his January State of the State address.{mosads}

“By legalizing adult-use marijuana — first and foremost — we can reverse the inequality and unfairness left from years of failed drug policies and shift public safety resources to where they can do the most good,” Murphy said.

Democratic presidential candidate and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker also endorsed the measure.

“All too often, communities of color and low-income individuals are unjustly impacted by our broken drug policies, but by including measures to expunge records and reinvest in the communities most impacted, our state has the opportunity to lead in prioritizing social justice,” Booker said in March.

The New Jersey legislature canceled a vote planned in March on legalizing recreational weed use after Sweeney said that it did not have the votes to pass.

The measure would have legalized recreational marijuana use among Garden State adults 21 and older. It will now be on the general election ballot for voters in 2020.

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