Legal marijuana for adults in NJ? A toss up as a deadline approaches

medical marijuana
Photo credit Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/TNS
TRENTON, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — Legislative committees in New Jersey have paved the way for votes on legalizing recreational marijuana in New Jersey next week. But no one’s quite sure if that will happen.

It’s a delicate issue for the assembly in particular, given the entire 80-member body is up for re-election in the fall. Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester County) serves as Deputy Speaker and says the head count in the Assembly and Senate is close: just a few votes shy in both chambers.

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“I sort of think it’s not a question of if it’s going to happen. It’s a question of when it’s going to happen,” he said. “So maybe the 25th. We’ll see how the next couple of days plays out as far as where votes are.”

The bills now under consideration set up a system for regulating and taxing marijuana sales at $42 an ounce for the state with additional levies on the local level. The package also clears criminal records for minor brushes with the law and making things easier for medical marijuana.

“I don’t know that the bills will evolve any more than they are at the moment,” Burzichelli added. “But sometimes topics like this takes a while for people to get comfortable, get feedback from their local districts and be able to reach a conclusion that they think fairly represents the people that they represent.”

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If there aren’t enough votes by Monday, Burzichelli won’t rule out reconsideration during debate on the budget but more likely the issue will be punted until after the November election.

Gov. Phil Murphy hammered out an accord with legislative leaders on marijuana legalization a week ago and has quietly lobbied many who have yet to commit to the package.