By Dane Larsen | @therealdanelars
According to New Jersey State Senate President Steven Sweeney, the State Congress will vote to legalize cannabis for recreational purposes in the very near future. As he has all of the votes to pass the bill that would further expand the state’s medical marijuana program as well, Sweeney and the other Senate Democrats will draft a proposal to make the necessary changes in New Jersey that have been a long time coming.
62% of residents in New Jersey are polling in favor of legalizing the drug for recreational use, including 90% of reporting ages 18 through 34 in favor, and 5% undecided as of August 22nd, 2018. This polling number had jumped from 59% just since mid-April of this year, and from 48% in favor in mid-September of 2017.
The medicinal marijuana program of the State of New Jersey has expanded exponentially under their current Governor, Phil Murphy. After signing an executive order to fully develop the project, the number of registered patients rose from 10,000 to 25,000. He states that the “program in Michigan, a state with a similar population to New Jersey, currently serves 218,000 patients, and the program in Arizona, a state with a smaller population than New Jersey, serves over 136,000 patients”. If or when this legislation gets passed, New Jersey will be the 10th state of the US to do so (not counting the District of Colombia), following in the footsteps of Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts, New Jersey’s neighbors to the northeast.
The specifics of a bill regarding this topic aren’t exact yet, with no real bill written yet by Sweeney. One idea Gov. Murphy has drawn out would be a 25% tax on products containing weed. Sweeney has shot down this idea, saying that it would only “incentivize people to keep using the black market”. It is clear that the final form of the bill is still being drafted, but action will be taken in the near future.
Backed by a force of Progressive Democrats, a driven Senate President, and a Governor who is finally willing to make the change regarding weed in the state, a bill to legalize recreational marijuana in New Jersey isn’t too far out of the realm of possibilities. Currently, in the state Senate, there are 25 Democrats, and 15 Republicans, and in the lower portion of state Congress, the General Assembly holds 55 Democrats and 26 Republicans. Not to say that all Democrats will vote for such a bill, but the traction is gaining both in the state Capital, and all around the state to push for the passage of this proposition.
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