NJ Senator Declan O’Scanlon (R-Little Silver, Monmouth) wants voters to decide if should legalize recreational cannabis. If a bill recreational cannbis comes up, in lame-duck, O’Scanlon’s a NO vote.
“There’s legitimate value to be gained by waiting,” Sen O’Scanlon told InsiderNJ. “We’ll have a lot more info from other states and that’ll make a compelling (referendum) debate in November of 2020.”
To get a referendum on the ballot in NJ, the legislature has to vote on it. If there’s a supermajority, the question goes straight to the ballot. Otherwise the measure must pass with a majority twice and in consecutive sessions. To meet O’Scanlon’s Nov 2020 timetable, this would need to happen ASAP during the nascent lame-duck session.
Ok so what about the 30,000 cannabis arrests in NJ every year?
“We need to move forward with decriminalization immediately,” O’Scanlon told InsiderNJ. “Expungements would need to be part of of the discussion.”
His message for legalization purists?
“The voters aren’t there,” he told InsiderNJ. “We haven’t even seen a draft of the bill!”
Senator O’Scanlon released the following statement:
“It’s time to end the mixed message being sent to the public, the industry, law enforcement and both opponents and supporters of marijuana legalization. We should abandon efforts to move legalization legislation during the lame duck session and firmly commit to sending the question to voters. To be clear, I will be a firm vote against any form of legalization legislation until and unless voters have voted in favor of legalization.”
“My reasoning for taking this position is several fold. First, I believe a commitment was essentially made this past spring, following the debate and failed vote at the time, that this issue would be put to the voters.”
“Second, while I firmly believe in legislative obligation and the value of representative government, there are times and issues where there is substantial value to be gained by permitting, in fact encouraging, voters to weigh in directly. I have come to believe that recreational marijuana legalization is one such issue.”
“Third, the sincere passion, fears, concerns and respectful debate that is still ongoing over this issue makes hastily cobbling together just enough legislative votes to pass it unwise. Additionally, permitting another few months of passionate, public debate and discussion of the issue would be healthy given those sincere passions, concerns and fears.”
“Fourth, New Jersey already has one of the most clinically rigorous medical marijuana programs in the country. Permitting our nascent expansion of this extraordinarily successful program an additional almost-full-year opportunity to establish itself prior to any allowance of adult-use marijuana access will be extremely valuable to our medical program. Further we want to ensure that the industry is operating in good faith and in the best interest of the patients–by increasing supply and access–prior to any increased demands for potential adult use access.”
Fifth, other states that are in the process of moving forward with legalization are providing us with tremendous amounts of new information and evidence about the wisdom, dangers, or folly, of this policy. Gaining another year of this evidence will dramatically help strengthen the legitimacy of truly valid arguments in this debate.”
“Lastly, it is imperative that we move forward immediately with legislation that decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana. The social justice implications of this widely-supported aspect of cannabis policy are irrefutable. This area of policy shouldn’t wait a year. Getting to clarity on the details of this mission should be our immediate focus and enactment of the policy a top priority.”