On March 25, the planned vote on a marijuana legalization bill in New Jersey was suddenly called off by both legislative houses in a move that disappointed cannabis advocates who had thought that the bill would sail through. Here are some possible reasons for the cancellation of the vote.
Insufficient Time to Convince Legislators
The legalization bill was released by the different committees less than a fortnight before a final vote was scheduled by the two houses.
This time was too little for advocates to convince legislators to support the bill. Consequently, Senate President Sweeney thought it wise to cancel the vote rather than take a risk and the bill fails to garner the required number of “yes” votes.
Strong Resistance Among Democrats
From the time Gov. Murphy made legalizing marijuana a priority of his term in office, there were a number of Democratic legislators that vowed not to support the legalization process.
These senators included Fred Madden (D-Gloucester), Richard Codey (D-Essex), Ronald Rice (D-Essex) and so many others. To compound this opposition, other Democratic senators joined those opposing the bill late during the legalization process.
This opposition from within the Democratic camp made it even more urgent to rally some Republican senators for the cause, but as earlier mentioned, there wasn’t enough time for this.
Last-Minute Changes Unsettled Some Legislators
Another possible reason why voting on the legalization bill was called off is because there were some changes that were made to the bill in the committees just before it was sent to be voted on by all legislators in the different houses. These changes weren’t agreeable to all supporters, especially in the state senate.
Of particular concern were changes that were introduced on matters of expunging the criminal records with respect to cannabis arrests and convictions.
Some legislators who would have voted for the bill were dismayed when they discovered that the threshold for possession was set at five pounds for those to benefit from the expungement provisions. This was unacceptable to these legislators and some decided to switch from supporting the bill to opposing it.
So, what happens next?
There is hope that the bill may be reconsidered for a vote before June 30 when the next budget of the state is due to be passed. If that doesn’t happen, then legalization may be delayed by another year or until another set of legislators is voted into office.
The cannabis industry, including Global Consortium, Inc. (OTC: GCGX) and Global Payout, Inc. (OTC: GOHE) hope that the current wave of support for cannabis legalization in the public and among the legislators results in a speedy passing of this bill.
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