New Jersey Calls Off Vote To Legalize Recreational Marijuana, Cites Not Enough Votes In Senate


New Jersey will not become the next state to legalize recreational marijuana after all, following a last-minute decision to scrap Monday’s planned vote due to a lack of support in the state’s Senate.

As New Jersey Advance Media reports, the Garden State could have legalized cannabis on Monday, but for the fact that supporters of the bill are about three votes shy of what they need to pass it. Lawmakers supporting the bill did not want to hold a vote until they were absolutely sure they had enough votes to get the bill through the State Assembly.

Democrats control both houses of New Jersey’s legislature, as well as the governor’s office. What’s more, the bill was co-sponsored by Democratic lawmakers. With such partisan support, at one time the passage of the bill seemed almost a sure thing. And indeed, the bill was expected to pass New Jersey’s House of Representatives easily. But in the Senate, where the bill needed 21 votes to pass, only about 17 or 18 senators were fully on board.

A disappointed state Senate President Stephen Sweeney said that even though there won’t be a vote today, the fact that the discussion took place at all means that there is progress being made with regards to cannabis legalization in New Jersey.

“While we are all disappointed that we did not secure enough votes to ensure legislative approval of the adult use cannabis bill today, we made substantial progress on a plan that would make significant changes in social policy.”

this is a stock photo of someone smoking marijuana
Featured image credit: Charles LeBlancFlickr

This isn’t the final word on legalizing recreational marijuana in New Jersey, however. Supporters didn’t remove the bill, they simply tabled it until an as-yet-undetermined later date. In the meantime, the bill’s sponsors will try to drum up support among hesitant lawmakers, says Sweeney.

“While this legislation is not advancing today, I remain committed to its passage.”

In a blog post by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), NORML Political Associate Tyler McFadden says that the delay in the vote represents just more of the same from reluctant state legislatures still devoted to the War on Drugs.

“Legislative intransigence regarding how best to create a regulatory framework has resulted in, at least for now, a continuation of the failed policy of marijuana criminalization in the Garden State.”

As of this writing, 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical purposes, and a further 10 have legalized it for recreational use.