Murphy Makes Late Case for Marijuana Legalization and Expungement Legislation

The Leonardo da Vinci-like Last Supper optics belied what Governor Phil Murphy hopes will be a successfully secular Monday afternoon legislative lunge at legalizing pot in New Jersey.

“We are close, we are not there yet. We are making progress, but we have a ways to go,” Murphy said, flanked by progressive leaders in the media room on West State Street.

Following numerous testimonials in support of the governor, Murphy commanded the podium for reporters’ questions.

He acknowledged hitting the phones hard.

“I’m starting to call people in Pennsylvania, I’m running out of people in New Jersey,” said the governor. “Nobody is being bashful right now. It’s now or never, as Elvis Presley used to say.”

Vermont was the only state of nine to accomplish legalization through the legislature, the governor noted.

“I love Vermont, but we’re a lot more diverse and a lot bigger,” Murphy said. “We’re trying to do this the hard way, I believe, the courageous way.”

But, “There are a number off chess pieces still in the assembly and in the senate,” he acknowledged.

Various leaders and advocates joined Murphy, who also summoned Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-20) to the microphone to make a closing case as both houses harvest pro-pots ahead of the March 25th vote date.

“Just four days from now people whose lives are held back will have their best hope,” Quijano said.

True to Renaissance form, there were 11 people in the tableau.

Eleven, not 12.

Did that mean there was a Judas somewhere in Trenton ahead of the pot vote?

Murphy delicately tamped down expectations.

If the vote doesn’t work out Monday, “We’re going to come to work Tuesday morning to glean from what California and other states are doing,” the governor said.

Senate President Steve Sweeney’s (D-3) this week allowed Murphy and his allies to animatedly sweat the phones, which the governor’s doing, pulling the likes of state Senator Nick Sacco (D-32) into his corner.

People’s Organization for Progress (POP) boss (and Bernie Sanders for President 2020 leader) Larry Hamm added his voice to today’s event, as did Hunterdon County Democratic Committee Chair Arlene Quinones Perez, African American Chamber of Commerce CEO and President John Harmon, and NAACP NJ Prez Richard Smith. So did Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora.

“I wholeheartedly endorse the governor’s initiative,” said the mayor, a former assemblyman  and former prosecutor. “We need the legislature to pass this. This is a good thing for the City of Trenton.”

“No social change is brought about smoothly,” Hamm said.


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