New Jersey reaches the vote to legalize cannabis with the result in the air

The state of New Jersey plans to vote on Monday a project to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, with a result so far uncertain since many legislators have not yet decided whether they will support it or not.

The law is one of the great initiatives of the governor, the Democrat Phil Murphy, who came to power in 2017 with a very progressive program, which clashes with the positions of some more centrist elements within his own party.

The Democrats control the two legislative chambers of New Jersey with ease, but within two days of the vote, it is not clear that Murphy has the votes needed to move the bill forward.

According to local media, the law has more options to be approved in the state assembly, while opposition is greater in the Senate.

Both the Lower and Upper House are scheduled to vote on the proposal on Monday.

"It should be approved, but I do not know if it will be approved," Senator Nicholas Scutari, the chief responsible for the legislative proposal, said Friday.

A day earlier, Murphy acknowledged that some votes were missing, so his team works this weekend to try to convince several undecided.

To that effort has been added, among others, the actress Whoopi Goldberg, who lives in the state and who this Friday telephoned several legislators to ask them to support the legalization of marijuana, according to local media.

Goldberg, which participates in cannabis-related businesses, also published an opinion piece defending the project and explaining how it uses the substance to fight headaches.

The complex bill, which takes months of negotiation, would allow those over 21 to legally use marijuana for recreational purposes, establishing a regulatory body that would be responsible for assigning permits for producers and distributors and taxes on the product.

However, the legislation also touches many other areas, including the justice system, to eliminate the criminal histories of people convicted of marijuana-related crimes.

It also proposes that those who are currently in prison or who have imposed fines may request the lifting of those penalties and that companies and institutions be prohibited from considering convictions for marijuana when evaluating candidates.

All these issues are key to a majority of black and Latino legislators, whose communities are the most affected.

If the law is passed, New Jersey would join a dozen states in the United States and the District of Columbia, where Washington is located, that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana.

Among them is California, the most populous state in the country, while similar measures are being discussed in other major states, including New York.


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