The fate of legislation to legalize marijuana — scheduled for a vote in the Legislature Monday — is uncertain once again.
In a Friday caucus meeting with Democratic Senators, lawmakers decided to pull a so-called cleanup bill that the governor had demanded to fix what he considered a shortcoming in the original bills passed Dec. 17.
Members of the Black and Latino legislative caucuses voiced strong objection to the cleanup bill, which specified penalties for minors who are caught possessing marijuana, according to Sen. Nicholas Scutari, sponsor of the legalization bill.
Scutari (D-Union) said Sen. Ron Rice and others believe the new bill creates a new vehicle for cops to revive stop-and-frisk tactics on minors — a practice that has fallen out of favor in police departments in New Jersey.
“This is precisely what I’ve been arguing for a long time. My whole agenda is to keep kids out the criminal justice system. I cannot support anythig that drives more Black and brown kids into the the system,” co-sponsor Sen. Teresa Ruiz told NJ Spotlight News.
After hearing their concerns, Scutari said he withdrew his name from the bill, along with Ruiz (D-Essex).
“If Ron Rice and the Black caucus is against, then so am I,” said Scutari. “The governor is going to have to sign the bills we sent him, or conditionally veto them. Enough is enough already.”