Here’s what is next with the landmark bill:
Key test Monday
After successful, if controversial, votes by legislative committees earlier this week, the full Senate and Assembly are scheduled to vote on the legalization bill Monday.
The sweeping, 175-page bill would allow possession of small amounts of cannabis by adults over 21 and clear the records of those with marijuana-related convictions. It also would lay the framework for regulating and taxing a new billion-dollar industry.
But with Republicans largely unified against the measure and several rank-and-file Democrats opposed or wavering, it appears just as likely that legislative leaders scrap the vote for lack of support.
Lobbying effort underway
Which way it goes depends on how successful Murphy, Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, all Democrats, are in enticing lawmakers to cast a “yes” vote.
They have plenty of inducements at their disposal, from appointments to money for lawmakers’ districts. But many legislators have firm beliefs on the topic of marijuana and may be difficult to sway.
Also read about the 3 women in NJ pushing the legislation through
With New Jersey on the brink of approving the most detailed marijuana reform bill of any state, some observers say three women were integral to getting the process this far.
They include Assemblymember Annette Quijano, the prime sponsor of the legalization bill in that chamber; Dara Servis, the executive director of the New Jersey Cannabis Industry Association; and Dianna Houenou, described as an effective advocate as part of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (ACLU-NJ), particularly as part of the New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform.
“These women are trailblazers,” said Kelli Hykes, the director of government relations for Weedmaps. Each in their own ways, these three women not only helped move New Jersey to the brink of legalization, but were part of a process that has kept issues of social justice at the forefront.