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New Jersey voters will likely decide on if recreational marijuana will become legal in the state. New Jersey lawmakers plan to vote on if the questions should be put on the ballot in 2020. State Senate President Steve Sweeney said that Legislature will vote - probably twice - to get the question on the ballot. They are doing this after they failed to agree on legislation to legalize adult use recreational marijuana this past March. There was hope that a legalization bill could come up after the 2019 November election during the so-called lame duck session, but there does not seem to be enough support. Democratic Speaker Craig Coughlin said through a spokesman the Assembly will also vote on the proposals

“The last count that I had heard was they needed to convince still six senators to get on board and they just weren’t able to convince all six,” says political expert Micah Rasmussen of the nonpartisan Rebovich Institute, sponsored by Rider University. A large Republican resistance to legalization meant that those in favor of it needed heavy Democratic support in the state Senate. "There is some resistance within the Democratic Legislature to legalization, particularly among older legislators and some African American legislators and some urban legislators just don't think this is a good idea for their community. Before this Legislature expires and leaves at the beginning of January, there could be a vote - one vote - and then the second vote could take place in January after the new Legislature is in,” Rasmussen says.

Turnout from both liberals and conservatives is expected to be high in 2020 due to the presidential race. Rasmussen says that he expects the airwaves to be bombarded by pro- and anti-pot messages. "You're going to see an attempt to win them over regardless of whether they're voting with [President Donald] Trump or against Trump,” he says. “You'll see a big effort to bring out those voters and turn them into pro-pot voters for next November."

Lawmakers and Gov. Phil Murphy tried earlier this year to legalize cannabis through legislation, but Sweeney said the bill failed to get enough support among senators. Murphy said, "I am disappointed that we are not able to get this done legislatively and that our failed status quo – which sends roughly 600 people to jail a week for possession, the majority of them, people of color — will continue." The governor said that he is hopeful that voters “will put us on the right side of history” by approving the amendment.

A House committee in Washington approved a plan to strike down the federal ban on marijuana used. Sen. Cory Booker is one of the co-sponsors of the federal Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act.

Eleven states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational cannabis. The voters can make New Jeresy number twelve.


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