Top N.J. Lawmaker Says Marijuana Legalization Dead for 2019

(Bloomberg) -- New Jersey’s effort to legalize recreational marijuana is dead for this year, a top state lawmaker said, signaling a setback in Governor Phil Murphy’s effort to join the growing national movement to end the prohibition on the drug.

“The votes aren’t there,” Senate President Steve Sweeney, a Democrat, told reporters on Wednesday. He predicted that it will happen in 2020 at the ballot box.

New Jersey earlier this year appeared poised to become the next state to legalize adult use, given the support from Murphy, fellow Democrats who lead the legislature and the public, only to see the effort founder in face of opposition from some lawmakers worried it would encourage drug use and increase crime.

While the West Coast has created a booming adult-use market, Eastern seaboard states have been slow to catch up. A legalization push in New York also faltered this year despite the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Murphy had planned to legalize marijuana within 100 days of coming to office in January 2018. “It’s always been a default to go to a referendum and ask the people,” he told reporters in East Windsor.

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