New Jersey Lawmakers Wade Through Dozens of Marijuana Lobbyists
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is still set on legalizing recreational marijuana in the state, even if it takes longer than expected. Lawmakers both for and against Murphy's plan must wade through a sea of lobbyists as various state interests occupy Trenton to have their marijuana opinions heard.
Marijuana lobbying has overwhelmed the state capital for over a year. Dozens of lobbyists from various groups fill the state halls daily. A total of 19 different interest groups are there to support recreational marijuana while at least four represent the voices of the opposition.
While Murphy said he hoped to legalize marijuana in his first year, he realized once all the interests appeared that it would take time to craft a bill that covers all the issues and concerns.
Leading the legalization effort in the state Senate is Senator Nicholas Scutari, who believes it is still possible to pass a bill this summer. His most recent push included a combination bill that expanded medical marijuana while legalizing adult use. The bill failed, but Scutari plans to push again with two separate bills.
Among Scutari's biggest concerns is having enough product to meet demand when a broader industry launches. His new plan would give existing medical marijuana dispensaries a license to sell recreationally, with preferences set for medical patients.
On Monday, Murphy sent out a request for six new medical marijuana applications, with plans to double the state's current marijuana program within the next couple of months. Meanwhile, the state health commissioner is hosting lectures to convince doctors to consider marijuana as a treatment.