TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Momentum to legalize recreational marijuana in the Garden State appears to have slowed to a stop for this legislative cycle.
In March, New Jersey’s planned vote to legalize pot was suddenly canceled and efforts to get it back on the active agenda have stalled.
On Monday, New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney broke the news on Twitter: “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.”
Sweeney said that he will seek voter approval for the legalization of recreational marijuana with a ballot referendum in 2020.
“This will transform the way New Jersey manages medical marijuana in the state,” he said. “This bill will help those in need by removing barriers to access for patients. It gives doctors and other caregivers the ability to make use of the medicinal qualities of cannabis and it lowers the costs of these important products. The best way to make the medical cannabis program fully effective is through legislation.”
Had the bill survived state politics to make it into law, medical marijuana facilities would eventually be able to offer recreational marijuana.
Gov. Phil Murphy had been very vocal in his support, saying “it’s now or never.” The proposed bill allowed for the sale and personal use of up to an ounce of marijuana for people 21 and over. Marijuana would have been taxed at $42 an ounce, with towns that have dispensaries permitted to charge up to 3 percent more.
To oversee marijuana regulation, there would have been a regulatory commission set up in the state.
The proposal also called to expunge pending charges and prior marijuana-related convictions for possession of up to 5 pounds.
Efforts to pursue legalization in New York and Connecticut continue to float in limbo, with federal officials cool to the idea and banking restrictions casting a shadow on any potential commercial financial support.