New Jersey governor Chris Christie has absolutely no intention of legalizing marijuana before he leaves office in 2018, but that isn’t stopping one state lawmaker from greasing the wheels of the legislative machine in order to prime the state for legal weed.
State Senator Nicholas Scutari, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, recently introduced a piece of legislation aimed at establishing a taxed and regulated cannabis industry. The proposal, which is designed to give adults 21 and over the freedom to purchase marijuana in a manner similar to beer, will begin shaping “New Jersey’s legal recreational marijuana program for years to come,” Scutari wrote in a special guest column for the Star Ledger.
The concept of growing and selling weed legally in the Garden State has been a hot topic of discussion for the past year, with countless reports, many recently, showing that lawmakers are simply waiting for Governor Christie to end his term before getting serious about drafting a bill.
But Scutari, one of the leading political animals dragging the state out of prohibitionary times, says “we have to get the ball rolling and educate the legislators” if we want to ensure the issue is taken seriously when it comes time to roll up our sleeves next year.
“We’ve got to work it so it will be ready for a new administration come January,” he told NJ Advance Media.
However, Scutari, like many other lawmakers all over the country, is still concerned that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is about to come out swinging on legal marijuana. Although the Justice Department has not yet confirmed a plan of attack, enough has transpired in recent weeks to suggest that a savage shakedown could be on the horizon.
A memo issued last week indicates that Sessions is now strong-arming prosecutors to go for the throat of drug offenders. The Alabama Senator turned Uncle Sam’s leading law enforcer has also asked a special task force, which he appointed, to reevaluate nationwide policies pertaining to legal marijuana. What’s more is Sessions continues to ramble on about how he feels it is necessary to enforce federal law. The main takeaway is that America’s top cop seems to be searching for any legitimate reason he can find to close the door on the cannabis industry in the coming months.
Even President Donald Trump, who, throughout his entire campaign, told the people he would support state rights with respect to marijuana legalization, has hinted that not even medical marijuana states are safe if his administration would ever deem it necessary to intervene.
In a recent statement, Trump said that the temporary medical marijuana protection approved by Congress would be easily disposed of if his people wanted to enforce federal law.
However, Scutari says, “we can’t afford to roll back progress with a renewed focus on the failed “War on Marijuana.”
“I’m convinced it’s time to move ahead with regulating, taxing and legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes in New Jersey,” he wrote.
Although there is no chance that Governor Christie would ever sign a bill seeking to legalize recreational marijuana, lawmakers believe the state’s next leader will.
So far, the front running favorite among the Democrats, Phil Murphy, has said that he would support a measure to legalize the leaf, while the Republican candidate, New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, has not given any indication where she stands.
The issue is expected to start taking shape later this year.
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