The state’s top three elected officials plan to meet Thursday in an effort to hammer out a legal cannabis bill, Gov. Phil Murphy said during Wednesday night’s “Ask Governor Murphy” program which aired jointly on the WNYC, WHYY and WBGO radio stations.
Thursday’s meeting between Murphy, Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin D-19th District, comes as the governor’s soft May deadline for a legalization bill fast approaches.
Declining to elaborate, Murphy said that there would be minor “tweaks” to the legislation—which had enough votes to pass the Assembly’s 41-member threshold during a March attempt, but lacked the support to overcome the 21-member threshold in the Senate.
Yet Sweeney, D-3rd District, told reporters on April 5 that many lawmakers were “spooked” by the addition of criminal records eligibility for possessions of up to five pounds of cannabis.
Murphy said that if lawmakers do not put the bill on his desk by then, he will go forward with a plan to ramp up the state’s medicinal marijuana program so that it could serve at least 150,000 patients by 2022, up from its current 42,000 program participants.
“I’d have no choice but to open up the medical marijuana regime dramatically,” Murphy said Wednesday night. “We can’t continue to hold back on [the program]. There’s too much at stake.”
Sweeney is opposed to such a plan, saying the expansion could amount to “defacto legalization,” which could sway lawmakers away from support the bill.