Earlier today, the New Jersey State Assembly chose a new speaker to take over as the leader of the legislature. But unfortunately it seems he may have different goals than the state's new governor when it comes to marijuana legalization.
Earlier today, the New Jersey State Assembly chose Democrat Craig Coughlin to take over as the Speaker of the Assembly. One of the biggest conversations in the state right now is newly elected Democratic Governor Phil Murphy's plan to legalize recreational marijuana. So obviously at the press conference following Coughlin's selection, he was asked about his thoughts on marijuana legalization, but he refused to endorse Murphy's vision.
"I want to make sure it makes sense," Coughlin said.. "As with any bill. particularly any bill that would create something new, I think the devil is really in the details. And I think we need to understand it in its totality. Even if we're going to do it, I want to make sure the bill is the right bill."
Sounds like a lot of politician speak for, "I don't want to commit to a position until there's actually a bill and I know whether or not people support it."
Of course, Coughlin may not have a lot of choice in the matter. Murphy won the New Jersey governor's race by a whopping 13 points, a decisive win that he says indicates the voters support his vision for the state, including legalizing marijuana.
With Murphy's election win, Democrats now control the New Jersey state house, senate and governorship, meaning they can pass nearly any legislation they want. The New Jersey State Senate President Stephen Sweeney has already promised to pass a recreational marijuana bill within the first two months of Murphy taking over as governor. So now it all comes down to whether Coughlin jumps on board as well. Although if most of the people in his party and the citizens of the state all support cannabis legalization, Coughlin may have to go along with it regardless of his personal feelings.
So Coughlin's statements today shouldn't be seen as a roadblock to New Jersey legalization, but it is something to keep an eye on in the coming months.