At this time last year, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy was making assertions that New Jersey would legalize marijuana by the end of the year, while New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was just starting to consider the idea after staunchly opposing it.
Gov. Cuomo spent 2018 doing a slow 180 that involved holding listening sessions and giving speeches that adjusted his perspective, until by the end of 2018 New York was added to the list of states that are expected to legalize recreational use.
Meanwhile, New Jersey has seen several deadlines arrive and pass with progress but no definitive legislation passed in regard to legalization of recreational marijuana. Gov. Murphy made the promise to legalize marijuana in his first 100 days in office, but that did not come to pass. Now, Gov. Cuomo has made a similar promise.
However, that plan may already be hitting a snag. In the latest discussion of the marijuana legislation, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie noted that such a complex piece of legislation may not be fully addressed by April 1, which means it won’t be included with the budget. Instead, it will be addressed later in the year.
For marijuana advocates, the concern is noted but easy to overcome. Other states have already forged a path when it comes to the regulations and various economic and legal elements of such legislation, giving New York plenty of models to pick and choose effective elements from. There have been offers to help with clarity or to streamline the plan New York hopes to put into action.
As previously reported, New Jersey’s legislation had wording finalized in November of 2018. However, there have been concerns and issues that still block the bill’s successful path to the Governor’s desk. One is the tax rate for marijuana products, which has seen a significant fluctuation throughout the bill’s introduction and various edits.
With these uncertainties, it is hard to predict which one — or whether either one— will successfully pass legislation to legalize marijuana in 2019. Marijuana advocates and residents alike are forced to wait and see.