Is New Jersey About To Legalize Pot? Lawmakers Say They Have The Votes


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Vandana Rambaran Political Reporter
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New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney predicts that a push to legalize recreational marijuana and expand the medicinal marijuana program in his state could garner enough votes to pass in the Legislature by the end of September.

Sweeney, a Democrat, is leveraging bipartisan support for expanding the state’s medical marijuana programs in an attempt to legalize the drug for recreational use as well, according to reports by Politico.

“I’m confident we’ll get to 21 and 41,” Sweeney said, noting the minimum number of votes needed to pass both bills in the Senate and Assembly, respectively. “I’m not going to get to 28, but I’m confident I’ll get to 21 votes and the speaker will find 41,” he said referring to Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, a Democrat who publicly endorsed legalizing weed earlier in August. (RELATED: New Jersey Gov. Declares ‘Full Weed Ahead’ On Marijuana Legalization)

Several state assemblymen in support of the push to legalize recreational use of the drug also support a bill that includes promises to expunge the records of criminally convicted offenders whose crimes were related to marijuana, raising a number of questions from those opposing the bill on how this will be done.

“We’re trying to motivate to create a regulated system,” Sweeney said to Politico, although it is still unclear how the state would determine who is eligible for expungement and how they would go about doing so. “If we expunge your record, and it’s a clean slate, and now we’ve made the product available, legally, and you then keep buying it illegally? What do we do?”

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat who has greenlighted efforts to expand the state’s medical marijuana program since January, is in full support of legalizing recreational weed as well, according to Politico. He has added 10,000 patients this year and extended medical marijuana to patients suffering from six additional medical conditions including anxiety, migraines, Tourette syndrome and various forms of chronic pain disorders, according to the New Jersey Department of Health.

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