Lawmakers in New Jersey Cancel their Vote on Cannabis Legalization

New Jersey lawmakers cancel the vote on a bill that would lead to the legalization of adult-use marijuana due to lack of reinforcement from the Senate. The vote was to take place on March 25.

The president of the Senate, Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) told the press conference that he was disappointed. He went ahead and said that they were making progress and they learned some lessons about the approach they used to get to it. “Every state would have done it this way if it was easy,” he added.

A partner at Stark & Stark named Gene Markin confessed that despite being uncertain on the particular issues that made the bill to lack enough support, expungement provisions incorporated in the legislation could have been the reason why the bill did not get the votes.

Gene Markin also told Cannabis Business Times that the main aim of some representatives was to bring up automatic arguments, which could be a solution for individuals who were caught in the hook and have records. “There is a legal process for the expungements of the bill where you are required to hire the services of an attorney as well as go through a paperwork process to have it. However, from my understanding the process of creating an automatic expungement process is impossible. It is not possible since the paperwork is required to determine the specific person, place and what charge or conviction you want to do away with first,” Said Gene.

As the lawmakers try to divert their attention to the state’s budget, which is due 1st July, the future of legalization of marijuana is now in doubt. This is according to a report by The report also stated that lawmakers would most likely postpone legislative efforts until the November elections are over, to ensure that all the seats in the House get a chance to vote. According to report, leaders could place the issue on the ballot next year if they fail to gain enough support in the Assembly.

The Senate Judiciary Committee and Assembly Appropriations Committee voted to pass the bill that set up the March 25 floor votes, titled the “New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory and Expungement Modernization Act. In general, the legislation would make personal use and possession of one ounce or less on marijuana sales legal. This will lead to the dismissal of all pending cannabis convictions of possession of up to five pounds for individuals at 21 years or over and also restrict employers from considering past convictions while hiring as well as other provisions.

As reported by New, Governor Phil Murphy has made cannabis legalization a priority and has also worked with fellow Democrats over the last week to win the support of the lawmakers in passing the bill,” said Sweeney.  The Senate had only 17 if not 18 of the required twenty-one votes, while the assembly had 41 necessary votes to pass the bill.

“We have now made tremendous steps and moved closer to achieving this than ever before, said Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex), the Assembly speaker said in a statement. “Therefore, today does not mark the end of the effort and process as I remain committed to ensuring the legislation is enacted.”

According to New reports, the calling postponement of the vote on the bill to legalize marijuana has led to the rescheduling of the other two measures related to it. These include measures that would wipe out all cannabis convictions and another that would enlarge the cannabis medical program in the state. The Gov. Has also hinted that if the vote does not occur, their backup plan would be an increase of permits for the cultivation of medical marijuana, added.

“The challenge is that we will have to do it under the vertically integrated ATCs (alternative treatment centers), broken out by regions, which is the old regime,” said Markin. “Therefore, if they want to offer new licenses, it would be under the old paradigm rather than having a new framework, something that this bill would have provided.”

In December, New Jersey awarded six additional licenses to medical cannabis businesses, which could hinder or delay the issuance of new licenses by the state, Markin added.

“I do not understand what they are up to since they have just awarded six additional licenses in December and they still need rush in achieving this,” he said. “Considering that these additional licenses will become operational probably by the end of the next year, I believe this will mainly depend on the demand.”

However, Markin is confident that the state will eventually pass the bill that seeks to legalize marijuana even if the legislative efforts have been delayed.

“I still believe that we are on the right track, though things always tend to take longer than expected,” he stated.  “Moreover, the existence of any movement or activity in either Pennsylvania or New York would provoke New Jersey and hopefully lead to the achievement of the favorable vote come next year.  As of now, it’s a gradual process.”

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