Legal Marijuana Vote Cancelled

The New Jersey Legislature cancelled the planned vote to legalize adult-use marijuana today. Top lawmakers previously stated that they would not hold a vote if they could not guarantee enough votes for the bill to pass.

“While we are all disappointed that we did not secure enough votes to ensure legislative approval of the adult use cannabis bill today, we made substantial progress on a plan that would make significant changes in social policy,” Senate President Steve Sweeney said in a statement. “Governor Murphy has shown real leadership in driving this issue. He worked with Speaker Coughlin, with me and with the bill’s sponsors and social justice advocates in a shared commitment to change failed drug laws and reform the criminal justice system.”

“This fight is not over. We need to learn from this experience and continue to move forward,” Sweeney added. “While this legislation is not advancing today, I remain committed to its passage. The Senate was very close to 21 votes and, with more education and advocacy, I believe we will get this legislation across the finish line.”

It is unclear when another vote may take place, but it’s likely that it wouldn’t happen until after the November elections at the earliest. If that doesn’t materialize, it’s possible a voter referendum could be included on the ballot in 2020.

“Today does not mark the end of the process and effort,” Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin said in his own statement. “I remain committed to enacting the legislation. I appreciate the support of the Assembly Caucus for the bills and look forward to continuing to work with the Governor and Senate President to pass this landmark legislation which will serve as a national model.”

The adult-use legalization outline that Governor Murphy announced on March 12 included: an excise tax of $42 per ounce; tax revenues of 1, 2 and 3 percent for municipalities depending on if they were a home to a wholesaler, cultivator or manufacturer, or retailer respectively; a five member Cannabis Regulatory Commission in charge of governing the industry; and provisions to establish an expedited expungement process for individuals convicted of low-level marijuana offenses.

The legislation included language giving employers the right to enforce drug-free workplace policies, which NJBIA had strongly advocated for.

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