|BREAKING: Proponents Forced to Cancel Legalization Vote in New Jersey
Pot Industry Cannot Find the Votes
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 25, 2019
Contact: Colton Grace
(Trenton, NJ) – Despite exhaustive efforts by Governor Phil Murphy and Senate and Assembly leaders, legislative advocates of legal pot were forced to cancel a planned vote today on legal pot in New Jersey. The bill, a signature piece of Governor Phil Murphy’s legislative agenda, would have made New Jersey the first state to commercialize marijuana through the legislature, rather than through a ballot referendum. Moreover, the bill would have placed no limits on THC potency, allowed for kid-friendly edibles, and set up pot bars that have been banned in legalized states. This vote cancellation is considered a significant win for the coalition of anti-legalization voices in the Garden State.
“This is a huge victory for us. They told us legalization was inevitable, and this action proves them wrong,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana Action (SAM Action) and a former drug policy advisor to the Obama Administration. “Thanks to the efforts of our grassroots coalition, the pledged no votes have held strong. We have flooded the phones and email boxes in the legislature for weeks and the decision to pull the bill is a direct result of our efforts. As we have said for weeks now, the pro-pot lawmakers in leadership know the votes are not there to pass this reckless bill, even with a massive multimillion dollar push from the pot industry.”
As the push to legalize marijuana began in earnest in the state, Senator Ron Rice, who serves as the chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, became one of the foremost opponents of the proposal. He began holding town halls across the state in minority communities to address continued arrest disparities and marijuana industry targeting of minorities that occurs in legalized states. His advocacy helped bring other crucial swing votes in the Senate to oppose the bill.
“I applaud my colleagues for their courageous stand against this bill,” said Senator Ron Rice. “They have weathered an onslaught of last minute horse trading and arm bending, but they knew they could not cave to the demands of the marijuana industry and its deep pockets. This bill was not about social justice and helping black and brown people, it was about wealthy investors making money at the expense of us. I welcome the governor to now consider my bill to decriminalize low level possession and expunge previous convictions.”
“I have said all along that legalization in New Jersey was not a foregone conclusion, and today’s result proved that to be right,” said Stephen Reid, Executive Director of NJ-RAMP. “The more elected officials in New Jersey learned that legalization has brought more workplace accidents, drugged driving, mental illness issues, and how Big Tobacco was cashing in on it, the more skeptical of this bill they became. We will celebrate today’s result as a victory but will also continue to be vigilant against attempts to bring this bill back up.
About NJ-RAMP: NJ-RAMP, an affiliate of SAM Action, is a coalition of individuals and associations who believe that the health, safety and economic consequences of recreational marijuana legalization far outweigh the perceived social benefits. The grassroots organization consists of medical doctors, community groups, treatment providers, drug prevention professionals, business owners, law enforcement officers, parents, religious leaders, and many others. For more information, visit www.nj-ramp.org.