New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is back at his push for legalization of recreational marijuana use by adults as the new year calendar pages turn. Gov. Murphy is now focused on the social justice aspect of the move, noting that legalization would be a step in the right direction after years of “inequality and unfairness”.
Gov. Murphy believes that the move to legalize would help those state residents attempting to move forward from a past conviction, and he reminded legislators and residents alike that legalization is logical because marijuana is already available and prevalent.
Despite his focus on social justice, Gov. Murphy did not hesitate to point out the revenue garnered in states like Colorado and Massachusetts, which is commonly a reason noted by states that have made the move to legalize recreational use.
Job creation, yet another draw for legalization, is expected to create 19,000 jobs in Massachusetts. This means a significant benefit to state residents, and it is one Gov. Murphy recognizes would be important to New Jersey as well.
As far as a vote to legalize, the negotiations are moving forward. However, there are three moderate Republican Senators that may be swayed to the approving side — for a price. For Senators Declan O’Scanlan, Christopher Bateman, and Chris Brown, the matter of changing their votes is related to spending reforms.
The concessions these senators hope to see from the governor include:
- Funds currently diverted to the Energy Tax Receipts Property Tax Relief program returned to the municipalities.
- Dedicated sources of funding for the state 911 system, the Emergency Response Trust Fund, and addiction recovery services — particularly outpatient programs for opioid overdose.
- Reimbursement fund for municipalities who retrain police officers to handle assessment of a driver potentially impaired by cannabis.
The opinion of these three senators seems to be that a concrete plan needs to be in place on how to handle the revenue from recreational marijuana prior to the passing of the legislation. Whether these measures can be put in place properly will largely determine whether the bill will be passed.