Legalization Stalls in New Jersey; Lawmakers Eye Medical Expansion

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After months of seemingly uncontested momentum, cannabis legalization has started to slow on the East Coast. At the beginning of 2019, politicians and activists alike were enthusiastic about the prospects of adult recreational cannabis legalization in both New York and New Jersey. Everyone was most focused on which one would pass their legalization bill first.

Now, it looks more likely than not that neither New Jersey nor New York will pass legislation for recreational legalization in 2019. New York lawmakers still have time, but the window is quickly closing. There’s still some hope that they will agree on a combination of legalization and social justice measures that will secure enough support, but New York lawmakers are referencing the delays in New Jersey, which doesn’t bode well for a 2019 change.

New Jersey, however, likely isn’t changing their prohibition on cannabis in 2019 at this point. They’ve already delayed the vote once. Now, in an act that admits defeat, New Jersey lawmakers have taken their focus off of the legalization measure. There are other efforts that instead attempt to broaden the existing medical cannabis program in the state and ensure there is adequate supply as another 2,000 people per month join the medical cannabis program.

Legalization does not always move quickly or in a linear manner. Instead, it can have hiccups and halts and then suddenly stop or start up with very little warning. Although it is disappointing to realize that the East Coast likely won’t add new legal states this year, it is encouraging that bills have made much more progress than they have in the past.

Given the broad level of support at both the state and federal level, it is very likely that more liberal states, like New York, will pass legalization measures sooner rather than later. However, it may take direct voter involvement, not just efforts by lawmakers, to make that possible.

For previous Ladybud articles about New Jersey, click here.