Despite Governor Chris Christie fierce opposition, the prime mover in Trenton behind marijuana legislation in New Jersey predicts that the Garden State will lead the rest of the country as the first state that will pass the legalization of the drug legislatively as opposed to referendum.
State Senator Nick Scutari (D-22) – chair of the senate Judiciary Committee – is preparing to drop his marijuana legalization bill later this month.
“We put a lot of work into it,” Scutari told InsiderNJ. “The main hurdle is the governor, but I’m not worried about him. In another eight months he’ll be gone.”
Phil Murphy, the Democratic front-runner for governor, supports marijuana legalization.
“Obviously he hasn’t seen the bill, but he supports the overall context,” Scutari said of Murphy, whose support means a lot to the senator.
“It really is a significant motivating factor for me in backing his candidacy for governor,” said the long marijuana legalization-laboring Scutari.
There are still pockets of resistance in the legislature. But Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) backs Scutari and “even the speaker [Vincent Prieto] has been positive,” the senator said.
Of course, Christie will veto the bill if it gets through the legislature. But Scutari says the dry legislative run will prepare lawmakers for next year, when presumably the pen-ready Murphy will sign his bill.
“I want to work out the kinks,” Scutari said. “I think we become the first state in the union to pass marijuana legalization legislatively. Every other state other passed it by referendum.”
As for Christie’s stated opposition to the measure on Monday, the senator said he was “surprised by a diatribe that is not backed up by facts.”