New Jersey Fails to Pass Marijuana Legalization Bill, Leaving the Decision in the Hands of Voters
New Jersey’s aspirations to become the 11th U.S. state to legalize marijuana appear to be dead in the water, according to New Jersey news outlet NJ.com.
While just a short time ago, New Jersey’s legalization measure seemed to carry some hope, proponents fell short of the necessary votes. Consequently, this kills one of Governor Phil Murphy’s key campaign provinces.
However, not all is lost. Lifting prohibition might not fly with legislators, but the people are a different story.
Not Enough Support
Despite Murphy’s strong attempt to make his campaign promise a reality, he was unable to secure enough support in the state senate. As NJ.com explains:
“Murphy and his fellow Democrats who lead the Legislature spent months trying to gather enough votes to pass the bill that would make recreational marijuana legal for people 21 and older. They viewed a voter referendum as a last resort.”
Unfortunately, Senate President Stephen Sweeny eventually admitted defeat. Despite his best efforts, Sweeny admitted that “…the votes just aren’t there”.
Leaving it Up to Voters
The legislative failure does not mean that New Jersey’s initiative is dead in the water. In fact, the Democrats who still opposed legalization basically handed a victory to Sweeny, Murphy and their supporters. If policymakers won’t step up, the people will.
Sweeny points out that the majority of New Jersey’s citizens support cannabis legalization:
“If you believe any of the polls, we’ll be successful. We can’t hold back progress.”
Consulting with the public is not uncommon on this issue. Out of the 10 current legal states, nine decided to legalize marijuana based on voter referendums (Vermont being the exception).
Although the legalization measure will have to be shelved for now, Murphy and Sweeny are working to secure a much better-received initiative.
Two bills are currently working their way down the pipeline. One is aimed at widening access to medical marijuana, while the other is intended to expunge the records of people with minor cannabis offences.
Senate Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin fully supports both bills, saying:
“[Expanding medical marijuana access] will mean the difference between being able to participate in life or having to suffer every day with intense pain and debilitating symptoms.”
“[The expungement initiative will] give thousands of New Jerseyans the opportunity to right the wrongs of the past and clean the slate making it easier to gain employment, buy a home or get a loan.”
Both bills are not only beneficial to loosing cannabis restrictions, but will also lead to statewide economic and health improvements.
Giving more people access to medical marijuana will reduce the need for prescription opioids or other medications that are prone to abuse or life-altering side effects.
Meanwhile, expunging the criminal records of marijuana offenders will help them enter the job market more easily and reduce the chances of them turning to crime as a result of limited employment options.
WeedAdvisor’s Interest in International Progress
While the failure of New Jersey’s legalization initiative is disappointing to us, we understand that sweeping change is not always well-received. However, it is sad that, despite popular opinion, the views of a select few can trump the views of the majority.
That being said, this crucial decision now falls on the people. Meanwhile, we will continue to offer education and news coverage in order to help guide the public with relevant information.