N.J. Democrats decide to punt, plan to put recreational marijuana on the 2020 ballot

TRENTON, N.J. – New Jersey Democrats want the tax revenue they believe recreational marijuana will bring to New Jersey. They also want a big Democrat turnout in Election 2020, especially in vulnerable Democrat-held territory like the 3rd Congressional District.

It’s against this backdrop today that Democrat legislative leaders announced their plan to take the question of legal weed to the ballot in 2020 as a statewide referendum, one which would subject cannabis to the current state sales tax (a much lower rate than previously debated). 

“We will have the Legislature vote on the plan during the current legislative session and expect the proposal to be on the ballot in 2020, when voter turnout will be maximized for the national election,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senator Nicholas Scutari, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in a joint statement issued Monday afternoon. “We are confident it will be approved by the Senate, the Assembly and the voters.”

Democrats aborted their attempt to pass legalization legislation through ordinary means this spring when the ruling party couldn’t get enough votes lined up in the State Senate.

Politicians at the State House will need to follow a formula to get the bill on the ballot: they’ll need to pass it twice by simple majority, once during the current lame duck session and again in 2020.

There’s no word yet when Democrats will take back up the related issue of expungement.