Swing senator explains his refusal to support N.J. legal weed

TRENTON, N.J. – Legal marijuana isn’t happening, Save Jerseyans, at least for awhile. And because Democrat leaders insist upon tying all of the issues together, less controversial expansions of drug offense expungements and the medical marijuana program are also on hold indefinitely.

State Senator Kip Bateman (R-16) was a “swing” vote Republican senator who declared against the legislation which was pulled from the floor on Monday around Noon.

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Why did he decide to vote no?

Kip Bateman

“As a parent, I’m concerned about the impact that increased access to marijuana would have on our youth. As a legislator and prosecutor, I have unanswered questions about enforcement costs and our ability to keep our roads safe from impaired drivers,” explained Bateman who has served as a municipal prosecutor in Central Jersey.

New Jersey municipal courts handle possession prosecutions for marijuana under 50 grams. The veteran legislator complained last week that the details of the gigantic reform package were sprung on the legislature at the last minute.

Still, Bateman says he’s open to compromise… just not the one that was on the table this time.

“I truly believe there is bipartisan support for significant marijuana reforms, including the expansion of our medical marijuana program and decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana,” Bateman added. “Unfortunately, we were presented an all or nothing proposition on some poorly structured bills, which doomed the potential for achieving significant marijuana reform from the start.”

Bateman’s vote ultimately wasn’t the decision-maker; published reports suggested the legislation was 3 to 4 votes short of passage in the state senate.

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