NJ lawmakers unable to agree on cannabis bill

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Attempts to bring marijuana sales to the state have fallen flat after lawmakers agree to disagree

New Jersey approved cannabis through a constitutional amendment that took effect at the beginning of the year, but additional measures to expand activity involving the plant are having difficulty. A measure had been drafted to bring legal marijuana sales to the state, but lawmakers seem to have difficulty reaching a consensus. A bill supporting the sale effort was pulled yesterday, bringing any further advancement to a grinding halt.

The bill would have paved the way for legalizing personal use of cannabis, as well as its decriminalization and its removal from the Schedule I list. It ran into some difficulty due to Governor Phil Murphy’s emphasis on how underaged consumers would be punished. A compromise was allegedly found, but wasn’t able to garner enough support to keep the effort alive.

Now, it’s almost as if no progress had been made to bring cannabis to New Jersey. State officials believe it could be another six months to a year before sales begin, as all of the legislation was a prelude to legal sales. Several lawmakers voiced their frustration over the turn of events, including Senator Michael Testa, who asserted, “The Legislature should be ashamed of itself. By a 2-to-1 margin, New Jersey voters approved a referendum to legalize marijuana and this should have been an easy lift, but the Senate, Assembly and special interests have confounded something we all knew was inevitable for the past three years.”

Casinos have been a source of revenue for New Jersey for years, but these have suffered issues recently that were compounded because of COVID-19. Any chance of being able to count on marijuana sales to fill budget gaps is now off the table, and Jersey residents will have to wait to see how lawmakers decide to re-address the subject.