But on Thursday, the state Senate and Assembly committees delayed scheduled hearings and a vote on the bill (S21/A21) after advocates and some lawmakers criticized the legislation for failing to direct tax revenue to communities harmed by the drug war. On Thursday evening, the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, said he remains open to an additional tax on the marijuana industry and to earmarking revenue for community programs.
Currently, there is no vote planned on the bill for Nov. 16, Scutari said, which was the initial deadline set by Scutari and Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester. But negotiations continue behind-the-scenes, according to sources inside the Legislature, the Murphy administration, the cannabis industry and social advocacy leaders.
Despite the delay, Scutari said he remains hopeful the bill can pass before the ballot question results take effect as a constitutional amendment on Jan. 1, 2021.
“I don’t think it’s going to be done next week. But it will get done by the end of the year,” Scutari told NJ Advance Media. “But I think we took an important first step Monday by getting (the bill) out of committee.”
“We are getting there,” Scutari added.
“Negotiations are ongoing,” Kevin McArdle, spokesman for Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, said.