The setback is the latest of many, and it means that recreational marijuana may not be a reality in New Jersey for at least another year and a half. Legalizing marijuana was a campaign promise of Murphy's, and lawmakers had spent months before he even took office laying the groundwork for its passage.
But Murphy and Sweeney were unable to muster enough support from fellow Democrats to pass the measure. The Assembly was said to have had enough votes to surpass the 41-vote threshold in that chamber, but the Senate fell short of its required 21 votes.
Only one other state, Vermont, has passed recreational marijuana legislatively. As recently as last week, Murphy held out hope that New Jersey would become the second state to legalize marijuana through legislation rather than a referendum.
"It takes more courage. It's a tougher vote for many," he said. "That's still the preferred route."
But the outlook dimmed almost immediately after Murphy made those remarks. Sweeney declined to show up at a scheduled meeting with Murphy and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin that afternoon to discuss legislative priorities such as marijuana legalization because of rising tensions over tax credits.