Marijuana advocates were excited heading for the possibility of New Jersey legalizing recreational cannabis in 2018. But they may want to lower their expectations now.
The New Jersey Assembly began debating marijuana legalization this week, and it appears that there's a lot of resistance to the idea. In November, it looked like the issue was a slam dunk when Democrat Phil Murphy won the state's governor's race and his party controlled the legislature. But it appears even members of Murphy's own party aren't onboard with legalization.
A tally of the state's senate found that a marijuana legalization bill would not pass if it were up for a vote today. Even African-American politicians in the state are hesitant on the issue, despite Murphy using social justice arguments to defend legalization. Some politicians are offering a compromise to decriminalize marijuana and/or expand the state's medical marijuana program.
The next move in the saga will be on Murphy. In the next few weeks, the governor will have to offer his plan for the 2019 budget. If Murphy includes marijuana legalization as part of his budget, then the issue will return in June when the legislature needs to discuss 2019. If he does not, then that would essentially put the issue on hiatus with no guarantee the state will ever bing it back up.
Perhaps Murphy should call in some Colorado politicians to explain how all these concerns are ridiculous and for New Jersey to get their stuff together and pass it.