It’s TODAY: But why NJ marijuana bill may not come up for a vote
UPDATE, MONDAY, MARCH 25: Legislators have pulled a bill to legalize recreational marijuana after failing to securer enough support in the state Senate.
TRENTON — Monday is the day the state legislature takes a vote on the legalization of recreational marijuana in New Jersey.
Or it may not.
The legalization bill is one of about 60 up for a vote during the Senate session scheduled to start at noon. A related bill, S3205, would make it possible to expunge the records for possession up to 5 pounds and waive fees for processing.
The leadership appeared to be about two votes shy of the required 21 votes for passage of the legalization bill, according to sources in the legislature who spoke to New Jersey 101.5. Sources speaking to NJ.com put the count at three short. Gov. Phil Murphy and legislative leaders have spent much of the last week trying to wrangle the votes after the governor acknowledged last Monady the votes were "not there yet."
And if the leadership isn't confident in a win, it could scuttle the vote altogether.
There were more people at the Statehouse Monday morning for the vote on a bill legalizing doctor assisted suicides than the marijuana bill.
The 176-page bill calls for an excise tax of $42 per ounce (in addition to normal sales tax) and sets up a five-member regulator commission. The measure lets towns that host retailers, growers, wholesalers and processors levy taxes as well, up to 3 percent in some cases.
If the Senate passes the bill, it then moves onto the Assembly, where the 41 votes are in place.
The issue of legalization was a cornerstone of Murphy gubernatorial campaign and is assured to get the signature of Murphy and become law.
New Jersey would join the District of Columbia and 10 other states if the measure succeeds. New Jersey would be just the second state, after Vermont, to legalize recreational weed through its Legislature rather than by voter-approved referendum.
Michael Symons and the Associated Press contributed to this report
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