What’s the holdup? Marijuana vote likely delayed again
TRENTON — The New Jersey Legislature will likely not meet their self-imposed deadline to vote on marijuana legislation on October 29.
Several issues continue to delay the vote which could happen on December 17, the next scheduled voting session for the legislature. While both state Senate president Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin say they are close to agreeing on a bill, a major hold up could be simple math.
Sweeney told the Courier-Post he is still 21 votes short to pass a bill and needs help from Gov. Phil Murphy to persuade them to a "yes" vote. Murphy said last week he never received a list of names from Sweeney, who thought that their discussion before the governor left on his trade mission to Germany would suffice. Sweeney told the newspaper on Monday he has supplied a written list.
Coughlin told the newspaper he is "confident" he has the 41 Assembly votes required to pass a bill.
Murphy and Sweeney continue to disagree on the sales tax that should be applied to marijuana, sources close to negotiations tell NJ.com.
“My concern is we tax it too high, you’re going to drive people back to the black market,” Sweeney said during an appearance on New Jersey 101.5 in September. “It’s like sports betting. If you tax it too high, people aren’t going to do it. They’re just going to stay with the same behavior that they had before.”
A distribution of power also needs to be resolved, according to NJ.com. Murphy wants the state Department of Health to have the most say over the expansion of growers and sellers, while Sweeney wants an independent cannabis commission to have that authority.