By the end of the month, New Jersey could become the 11th state in the nation to legalize marijuana for recreational use among adults. Legislators just approved a bill that could result in the development of a cannabis industry estimated to generate close to a billion dollars. With the last voting session fast approaching before a three-month break, both New Jersey lobbyists and citizen’s alike are wondering if the bill will gain the votes it needs to officially pass.
Unfortunately, the bill has drawn a lot of controversy. Both supporters and opponents lined up to testify on behalf of the bill, but were met with a six-hour delay, causing many to leave before they could be heard. After the delay, only 25 minutes of testimony was heard and the measure was passed both through the Assembly and Senate Judiciary Committee.
The next four days will be crucial for New Jersey lobbyists and bill backers, including Governor Phil Murphy, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, and Senate President Stephen Sweeney, to cobble together enough votes to successfully pass the bill. With many lawmakers stating they are still on the fence about the issue, the fate of the bill is far from certain. Along with the bill are two others that are designed to expand the state’s current medical marijuana program as well as the expunging of records for offenders convicted of marijuana charges.
Lawmakers are creating what they believe will be the gold standard of cannabis policy. It will also mark them as the first state to actually organize the reform through the legislature instead of using a ballot initiative. What is also impressive is the fact that this has occurred in less than two years. Just short of 10 years ago, they had a governor who was staunchly anti-cannabis. The bill was designed to not only address patients and adult recreational users but also concerns related to stock-holders, local government, and community needs.
Do you own a company trying to break into the possible billion dollar industry in the State of New Jersey? PSI can help. For more than 30 years, PSI has represented the interests of their clients before both the executive and legislative branches of state government. Use their experience and know-how to help successfully advocate your business’s position before those who are responsible for making it happen.