New Jersey lawmakers are waiting for Governor Chris Christie to get the hell out of dodge so they can finally get serious about establishing a fully legal cannabis industry.
Earlier last week, Senate President Stephen Sweeney, who says he is impressed with how “regulated, safe and profitable,” legal weed has been in Colorado, told NJ.com that the goal of the state’s legislative forces is to legalize marijuana when the next governor takes office in 2018.
The gatekeeper of the New Jersey Senate said bringing marijuana out of the black market by allowing adults 21 and over to purchase it in a manner similar to beer would be a “game changer” for the state.
“I'm committed to it,” Sweeney said. “We are going to have a new governor in January 2018. As soon as the governor gets situated we are all here and we intend to move quickly on it."
Senator Nicholas Scutari, who recently led Sweeney and several other lawmakers on a fact-finding expedition in the Centennial State, predicts New Jersey would see the creation of around 29,000 new jobs through the demise of marijuana prohibition, providing a much needed boost to the state’s economy by putting more money in the pockets of middle class and blue-collar workers.
For now, Scutari says the state is “missing out” on some important fiscal opportunities because Governor Christie refuses to even consider legalization. But voters are set to elect a new governor next year – pushing Christie out the door.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Phil Murphy, told those in attendance of a recent town hall meeting that he supports full-scale pot reform.
“I support legalization,” he said, when asked his position on the issue, adding, that he believes making weed legal is the best approach.
In September, Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll, a Republican, introduced a bill aimed at legalizing marijuana similar to how the state handles cigarettes. The proposal would allow adults (19 and older) to purchase weed from convenience stores, grocery stores and other outlets where tobacco is typically sold. Senator Scutari is expected to introduce a separate pot plan that would merge the state’s medicinal sector with a newfound recreational trade – a move he predicts would lower cost.
The latest Gallup poll shows a record number of American citizens (60 percent) now support the legalization of marijuana.