New Jersey lawmakers are unlikely to take action on cannabis legislation prior to the midterm election in November, reflecting little appetite for a decriminalization bill top Democrats had previously considered unworkable, according to a half-dozen sources involved in efforts to change the state’s marijuana policies.
The Legislature wrapped up nearly all of its most pressing business in June and, absent a grand bargain with Gov. Phil Murphy's administration involving the state’s controversial tax incentive programs, current momentum to tackle legislation requiring as heavy a lift as marijuana decriminalization or a bill to put legalization on the ballot has been limited, the sources said.
Both could be considered in the lame duck session after the election, they said. Assembly Democrats hope to capture a handful of seats in Republican-held swing districts and strengthen their majority in the lower house.
Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin have said they’d be willing to call a summer voting session to address unresolved issues relating to the state’s tax credits, as well as some controversial (and arcane) health care bills. However, since June, when the lawmakers passed measures to expand the state’s medical marijuana program and create new processes for expunging criminal records, the drumbeat for additional cannabis legislation has subsided.
“I don’t get the sense the Legislature will be back in full force” prior to November, said one lobbyist who’s worked on cannabis legislation.