New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy wants state lawmakers to pass legislation legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana by the end of the year.
Murphy has included $60 million in tax revenue from legal pot in his first state budget proposal, which he unveiled Tuesday. “I am committed to working with you to get this passed this year,” the Democrat said in his budget address at the Statehouse in Trenton.
Murphy campaigned on bringing legal weed to the Garden State to drive up tax revenue for the state and cut down on incarceration rates.
I advocate for legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana sales to adults.
This will allow us to reinvest directly in our communities, and these investments will pay dividends – in contrast to the cost of mass incarceration. #StrongerFairerNJ
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) March 13, 2018
Many state lawmakers, Democrats and Republicans alike, have either said they’re opposed to the idea or undecided. The state Legislature, which is controlled by Democrats, needs to pass the bill before Murphy can sign it. State Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, is in favor of the proposal. State Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, remains undecided.
If the legalization bill does not pass, some advisers to Murphy will encourage him to push for a constitutional amendment asking voters whether they want legal pot, according to a source familiar with the situation.
Nine states and Washington, D.C., have legalized recreational marijuana. One of those states, Vermont, this year became the first to do so legislatively. All other states that have legalized marijuana did so through a ballot initiative.