12/16/2019: The Assembly and Senate passed a resolution for a constitutional amendment to legalize adult-use cannabis, to be put on the ballot to the voters next year. Read more articles here.
March 25: 7:52PM: A special edition of Insider NJ’s Who’s Up And Who’s Down
5:03PM: Insider NJ reporter Fred Snowflack writes on Governor Murphy, pot, and the ‘art of sounding upbeat‘.
4:23PM: Praising Senate President Sweeney’s efforts, Governor Murphy told him ‘thanks, man‘.
4:17PM: Governor Murphy said ‘the facts are on our side’, noting his disappointment in the stalling of marijuana legalization legislation, as he ticked off a list of stats. “Justice delayed’ won’t be ‘justice denied’, he said, as he gave the floor to Senate President Sweeney and Speaker Coughlin.
4:15PM: Legalization opponent Senator Rice put out a statement saying ‘the public has not properly been educated’.
4:02PM: A would-be long day at the Statehouse turns into a short one, with regards to the marijuana legalization effort, writes Insider NJ reporter Fred Snowflack.
4:01PM: Insider NJ columnist Jay Lassiter writes that in 12 months, recreational marijuana will be ‘so easy to pass‘ during a presidential election year.
3:58PM: Watch NJTV’s live stream of Governor Murphy’s press conference addressing the marijuana legalization vote cancellation:
3:29PM: The death of the marijuana legalization bill today only delays the inevitable, according to many insiders, and ultimately will get passed – the only question is how, and by whom – Senate President Sweeney or Governor Murphy?
3:25PM: Asked why he didn’t post the bills for a vote in the Assembly to put pressure on the Senate, Coughlin said he worked collectively with the Senate President and Governor – ‘we were in this together’, and made the decision to ‘fall back, we will regroup’ and ‘come up with a strategy that will achieve what we set out to do’. He said its ‘way too early’ to discuss when a vote may be held. Asked if he thought the Senate President’s out-of-state absence over the weekend may hurt the bills’ chances, he said ‘no’, adding that ‘I can’t tell you how many times I spoke to the Senate President over the past week’.
3:18PM: Speaker Coughlin said that ‘over the last few years’ the sponsors of the bills have ‘worked tirelessly’, and that the Governor and Senate President were ‘true partners’ in the effort. Calling them ‘good bills’, Coughlin said he’s proud of the effort and that ‘we’ll continue to work’ to make sure they get over the line. Assembly Majority Leader Greenwald echoed Coughlin’s statements. ‘This was not an easy issue’, he said. “We’re very close’, he added. Sponsor Assemblyman Holley said ‘while we missed the mark today, I’m very proud of the momentum we’re going and headed to moving forward’. Holley praised the press for ‘understanding the complexity’ of the three bills and in ‘respecting our privacy as it relates to what we say and what we cant’ and the ‘difficulty in working with so many different members in trying to get them over the hump to a yes vote’. Holley added that ‘we’re going to move forward and keep up the good fight’.
3:13PM: Senator Kip Bateman put out a statement on his reluctance to support marijuana legalization efforts today, saying there were ‘too many unresolved questions’ and that while he believes there is bipartisan support for medical marijuana expansion and decriminalization, ‘unfortunately, we were presented an all or nothing proposition on some poorly structured bills, which doomed the potential for achieving significant marijuana reform from the start.
3:03PM: Watch the Assembly’s post-pot effort presser via NJTV’s live stream:
2:15PM: Senate President Sweeney thanked Governor Murphy for a ‘full-press effort’ and says ‘we made a few mistakes, we’ll fix them, we’ll move forward, and we’ll come back’, adding that adult-use marijuana legalization will get passed at some point. Senator Scutari said ‘we’re going to continue to make improvements’. Sweeney said ‘the bill didn’t fail’ and they’ll ‘work to get more votes’ and that he ‘may have underestimated the challenge in getting this passed’, adding that ‘anyone who thinks this is dead is wrong’. Asked what the hurdle is, Scutari said ‘getting 21 votes’ and ‘when we get the votes, Senate President will put it back up’. Sweeney said that ‘there are some people who are just philosophically opposed’, referencing Senators Rice and Madden. ‘With anything hard and important to do, sometimes it takes two or three times to get it done, and we will’, Sweeney added, saying a vote could be held sooner than November.
2:11PM: Watch NJTV’s live stream of the post-marijuana legalization effort press conference:
1:55PM: Insider NJ columnist Carl Golden’s writes about the post-pot fallout for Governor Murphy, and that the ’15 months Murphy’s been in office have been marked by the Senate President’s outmaneuvering the governor, playing three-dimensional political chess while Murphy is pondering a one-dimensional checkerboard’.
1:11PM: Speaker Coughlin says that despite the legalization bill not advancing today, its ‘still an historic day’ and that the state ‘moved closer to the goal than ever before‘ while reiterating his commitment to enacting the legislation.
12:54PM: A source says post-pot flop, Governor Murphy needs to bring in a ‘Mariano’, saying ‘for a guy with such good policy positions, he sucks at making sausage’.
12:42PM: Senate President Sweeney says the legalization bill won’t advance today, but that ‘this fight is not over’ and that he remains committed to its passage.
12:38PM: As Senate Dems caucus, one source says ‘people are counting heads (votes) before they officially start counting heads’.
12:14PM: Senator Paul Sarlo, believed to be a no vote, says he ‘hasn’t changed’ his mind on marijuana legalization.
11:44AM: Senator Codey is a hard no heading into caucus, according to sources in the administration and Senate, as one source points out ‘Codey needs [legalization opponent Senator] Rice more than Murphy for Essex politics’.
11:20AM: The Senate is in caucus ahead of the scheduled 12pm voting session.
10:42AM: A source remarks that ‘I don’t recall ever seeing when a Governor and senate President of the same party couldn’t get to 21 when they’re at 18 or better’ as it continues to look grim for the legalization effort; the source added ‘if that holds, it says something. And I’m not sure how much it has to do with marijuana’.
10:11AM: Governor Murphy makes a late case to political ally Senator Dick Codey, who’s opposed to legalization, in a late game effort to roust up two more votes to get to 21. It’s a late burst of life for the legalization effort – perhaps – but as one source points out, ‘after Murphy threw Pete under the bus, Murphy does not have a lot of juice with Codey’, referring to former Murphy COS Pete Cammarano.
9:40AM: The late front office conversations center around several GOP Senators, as Governor Murphy makes a last-minute case for legalization.
9:20AM: The conversation heading into caucus: to post, or not to post…
9:16AM: Marijuana legalization is stuck in the Senate this morning, unable to surpass nineteen votes (at most), according to a source.
9:00AM: Recreational marijuana legislation, medical marijuana reform, and expungement legislation is up for a vote today in the Senate and Assembly. Follow Insider NJ’s ‘Weed War Room’ throughout the morning for regular updates, and as a reference for the events over the past week.
The Governor’s Office worked to whip votes over the weekend, as Governor Murphy (who had been burning up the phones from last Monday on) had repeatedly said all throughout last week that it would be a ‘very close‘ vote (see the timeline below).
As Friday approached, it looked grim in the Senate, which had been four votes short going back to last Tuesday. The Assembly votes are intact, somewhere in the range of 41 to 43, according to sources. By Sunday night, there was little movement towards the needed twenty-one votes in the Senate, with sources putting the number at seventeen or eighteen, depending on who you asked. As time ticks down towards the noon voting session, there was still hope for movement this morning and during the final Senate caucus scheduled before the vote.
As of 9am this morning, the Senate seems stuck at 19, making it possible that the legalization bill could be pulled from the agenda, as allies began bracing for defeat.
Be sure to read Insider NJ’s own Jay Lassiter’s columns on the subject:
- Trenton’s Greed Legalizes Weed?
- Shavonda Sumter’s Gutcheck Moment
- Tuesday’s Pot Potpourri
- A Very Busy (Marijuana) Day in Trenton
- Marijuana Legalization in NJ. How Fair? Who Wins? What about Expungement?
- LEAGUE NOTES: cannabis, marijuana, and weed
Here’s what happened over the past week in the legalization battle:
- Senator Rice sent a letter to his legislative colleagues urging them to vote against the legalization bill today
- Mayors Baraka and Fulop came out in support for legalization, pushing for ‘full, automatic expungement‘
- Senator O’Scanlon says medical marijuana reform legislation shouldn’t be tied to the outcome of the legalization bill
- The Governor’s Office released a list of supportive statements for the bills
- NJ United For Marijuana Reform released a statement urging legislators to vote for legalization
- Senator Booker, a sponsor of federal legalization legislation, released a statement in support of state legalization
- Murphy made late game case for pot and doubled-down on vote whipping efforts
- Sweeney offered support for the social justice aspect of legalization
- Coughlin held caucus conference call, with Assembly votes intact
- NJ-RAMP says ‘we fully expect this bill to be defeated once and for all’
- Doherty blasted Dems for ‘backroom deals’
- On Wednesday, Murphy said the vote is ‘going to be very close‘
- On Tuesday, he said ‘we’re not there yet‘
- On Monday, Murphy acknowledged ‘we’re going to have to put everything into this‘
- Rep. Watson Coleman offered her support to the marijuana legalization
- Rep. Payne released a statement in support of marijuana legalization
- Senate four votes short, with seventeen in favor, as of Tuesday
- The inescapable rivalry of Sweeney and Murphy
- The front office held a meeting with mayors (see the notes here)
- Baraka, who had concerns with expungement, inched closer to comfort
- Senator Rice says expungement ‘can be addressed on its own‘
- Senator Holzapfel penned an op-ed in the Asbury Park Press on the downsides of marijuana legalization
- Senator Cardinale released a statement blasting pro-legalization editorials as ‘rife with inaccuracies’
- Rev. Sharpton tweeted weed legalization support
- Assembly Appropriations advanced the bills
- Murphy burning up the phones to whip support
- Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle expressed resistance in caucus, saying she is ‘not convinced to support recreational cannabis at this time’
- Assemblywoman Sumter also had concerns about the bill
- Prime sponsor Assemblyman Holley decried the late-game criticism
- Newark Mayor Baraka testified on his concern over the expungement bill, saying ‘the onus should not be on individuals‘ but on the state
- Senate Judiciary advanced the bills
- Doherty railed against legalization, saying ‘our society will be extinct in the next few decades’ and blasted it as a ‘deal with the devil‘
- Senator Cardinale took aim at Murphy, saying ‘there seems to be no control in the governor’s office’
- Doherty and Cardinale denounced amendments to expungement bill
- Senator Bateman said GOP members hadn’t seen the final text of bill before the hearing
- Senator Smith said it’s ‘one of the toughest votes‘ of career, and his favorable committee vote doesn’t guarantee floor vote
See the bill here:2703_U1
- Al Sharpton
- Bob Smith
- Bonnie Watson Coleman
- Cory Booker
- Craig Coughlin
- Dawn Marie Addiego
- Declan O'Scanlon
- Dick Codey
- Donald Payne
- Fred Snowflack
- Gerald Cardinale
- Jamel Holley
- Jay Lassiter
- Jim Holzapfel
- Joe Pennacchio
- Kip Bateman
- Lou Greenwald
- Mike Doherty
- Nick Scutari
- Nilsa Cruz-Perez
- NJ United For Marijuana Reform
- Phil Murphy
- Ras Baraka
- Robert Singer
- Ron Rice
- Shavonda Sumter
- Steve Sweeney
- Troy Singleton
- Valerie Vainieri Huttle
Click here for the full Insider Index