State lawmakers are running out of time to avoid marijuana legalization veto
A state Senate panel again delayed a bill that aims to fix issues surrounding the creation of the legal cannabis industry in New Jersey, as well as the decriminalization of marijuana. But they say that they are hopeful that they can solve the issues by Friday.
“There’s some perceived inconsistencies between marijuana and cannabis in bills that are before the governor’s desk,” says state Sen. Nick Scutari. “We’re trying to work those out.”
Lawmakers have until the end of the week before Gov. Phil Murphy will likely have to veto the bills that the Legislature sent to him two months ago.
“Hopefully we’ll vote through a bill that will be of satisfaction to the governor so that he can sign the two major pieces of legislation that have been sitting on his desk,” Scutari says.
The so-called “cleanup bill” was supposed to be voted on in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday afternoon. But it was pushed back to Wednesday by a bill that Scutari sponsored.
Murphy has said that he wants to make sure that marijuana is only legal for those who are over 21 years old. But he also does not want those under 21 to be arrested for possession. Under the new bill, those between 18-21 would get two written warnings if they are found with marijuana illegally. A third offense would require a $50 fine or community service.
A possible snow and ice storm on Thursday will likely bump back the deadline an additional 24 hours, setting up a Friday vote on the legislation.
The deadline exists because the two marijuana bills passed last year will automatically become law the next time the state Assembly meets. To avoid that, the governor will have to veto the bills or Speaker Craig Coughlin could postpone the Assembly session.