Pot Legalization Drive Seems Dead in NY, NJ

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Photo by Cannabis Culture via Flickr

A push to legalize recreational marijuana in New York and New Jersey this year appears all but dead in both states, the New York Times reports, calling it “a dramatic fall for an effort that just over a month ago seemed inevitable.”

For months, the two states were racing to legalize, vying for millions in tax revenue and progressive bragging rights. In March, the campaign in New Jersey abruptly collapsed, hours before a vote was supposed to take place. New Jersey’s failure had an effect in New York: It emboldened opponents and eased pressure on some of legalization’s important allies, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who had declared legalization a priority for the first 100 days of the session.

As that deadline approached, Cuomo declared that negotiations were too complicated; within days of New Jersey’s failure, the effort in New York, too, was shelved. In the weeks since, the inertia in each state has fueled more of the same in the other, with even staunch proponents of legalization seemingly resigned to waiting until next year. Democratic leaders in New Jersey, including Gov. Philip Murphy, have remained focused on an upcoming budget battle and an investigation into tax credits.

Legislators in New York, who had emphasized the importance of pre-empting New Jersey, have not discussed marijuana in private conferences since March. “New Jersey took the wind out of the sails in New York,” said Jeremy Unruh of PharmaCann, a medical marijuana company in New York that lobbied for recreational use. There is still a chance legalization could break through, with six weeks left in New York’s legislative session and a self-imposed deadline of May 31 in New Jersey.

See also: Pot Legalization Becomes 2020 Litmus Test

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