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Why N.J. legal weed plan went off the rails and how it can be saved

Bad blood getting worse. A lack of leadership. And a new governor learning the ropes.

Those are three reasons New Jersey is without legal recreational marijuana, a law supported by a majority of residents.

Adult-use marijuana, of course, had been a campaigning point and a “First 100 Days” priority after Phil Murphy was elected governor and took office in January.

Day 100 came and went Wednesday and there’s still no sign of legislation, much less a law. So what happened and why is Jan. 1, 2019 Murphy’s new target?

In a word, politics.

NJ Cannabis Insider, a new premium briefing tracking the marijuana industry, has multiple stories this week on the the political logjam in Trenton over legal weed. (You can try a sample issue of the product here.)

In addition to Justin Zaremba’s story on Murphy’s fragile relationship with Senate President Stephen Sweeney, NJ Cannabis Insider subscribers also get exclusive updates this week from Payton Guion, Susan K. Livio, Claude Brodesser-Akner and Jonathan Salant. Their specialized reporting and stories are all in addition to what you will find regularly at nj.com/marijuana.

And so what’s the next step for adult-use marijuana in New Jersey and how can the big program be saved?

Insiders are still optimistic.

They see Murphy’s expansion of the medical marijuana program as an immediate benefit, something that sets the table for adult-use later this year.

Ultimately, they say, the parties in Trenton — the governor’s office, Sweeney, and leadership in the Assembly — have to get on the same page. Then and only then can the real action begin: The horse trading to get enough votes behind cannabis legislation to pass a bill and send it to Murphy.





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