TRENTON — For the second time this year, top Democratic lawmakers in New Jersey pulled the plug on legislation to legalize cannabis sales for recreational use, killing any likelihood Gov. Phil Murphy will deliver on a key campaign promise before 2021.
Instead, legislative leaders introduced a resolution Monday that would put a recreational use question on the November 2020 ballot. The resolution would need to pass both houses of the state Legislature by three-fifths majorities in one year or by simple majorities in consecutive years to make it onto the ballot.
“We made further attempts to generate additional support in the Senate to get this done legislatively, but we recognize that the votes just aren’t there. We respect the positions taken by legislators on what is an issue of conscience,” Senate President Steve Sweeney said in a joint statement with Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union), who had been the lead sponsor of the cannabis legalization bill, NJ S2703 (18R), in the upper house.
While senior lawmakers had telegraphed the possibility that they’d move forward with cannabis legalization through a referendum, Monday’s announcement came less than three hours after Scutari held a press conference with Assemblyman Jamel Holley (D-Union) and pro-cannabis groups to demand action on the recreational use bill.
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