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NJ Lawmakers shelve Marijuana Legalization Bill, To Hold Referendum In 2020

Governor Phil Murphy has made the legalization of marijuana in New Jersey a top priority of his. For over a year he has been cajoling lawmakers to pass a bill which would decriminalize possession of cannabis by those over 21 years old.

But legalization seems dead, at least for now.

On Wednesday, New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney announced that he will be shelving attempts to legalize marijuana via a bill. He cited lack of support among lawmakers as the reason for putting the legislative agenda aside. Instead, he would like to legalize marijuana via ballot referendum in 2020.

Lawmakers will continue to work on passing two bills to expand New Jersey’s medical marijuana program and wipe the record clean for those found guilty of being in possession of marijuana. Earlier in the week, Governor Murphy said New Jersey’s Health Department will be given broader authority to expand their medical marijuana program.
Murphy says his push to legalize cannabis is based on social justice values, with statistics showing that minorities are three times more likely to be found guilty on marijuana charges than whites.

A ballot referendum would be likely to pass as New Jersey is a liberal state and the 2020 election is expected to have a high turnout of younger voters who support marijuana legalization.

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