May 15, 2019
After months of speculation and what seemed to be momentum, and then a nearly successful vote in late March, top New Jersey lawmakers are now saying the prospect of legalizing recreational marijuana in the Garden State will have to wait until 2020.
New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) told NJ.com Wednesday that the votes for legalizing weed in 2019 “aren’t there”, and the state now plans on turning the decision over to voters as a ballot question in November 2020.
Sweeney said on Twitter on Wednesday that the state “will not … pursue the legalization of adult use marijuana at this time.”
We will move forward with the expansion of our medical cannabis program as well as the progressive social justice reforms in the expungement legislation. We will not, however, pursue the legalization of adult use marijuana at this time.— Steve Sweeney (@NJSenatePres) May 15, 2019
The state will reportedly move forward with two different pieces of legislation in the interim, according to NJ.com, to expand the state’s medical marijuana program and expunge records of residents with minor convictions of marijuana possession.
Sweeney said he expects the ballot question to pass in November, considering polls have shown the state’s residents overwhelmingly support legalization.
In February, a Monmouth University poll found 62% of New Jersey residents supported legalization, compared to just 32% opposed.
Lawmakers had scheduled a vote for March 25 on a bill which would have legalized marijuana in the state, but cancelled the vote at the last second because the necessary votes weren’t in place.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy made legalizing marijuana a pillar of his 2017 gubernatorial campaign, and during his first budget proposal address in Trenton declared he wanted New Jersey to legalize recreational marijuana by the end of 2018.
The recreational use of marijuana is currently legal in 10 states across the United States, including nearby Massachusetts and Vermont.