N.J. legislators call off planned recreational marijuana vote over lack of support

State Sen. President Steve Sweeney, left, said he wants $50 million in the state budget for fiscal year 2020 to go toward so-called extraordinary aid for special education students (Joe Hernandez/WHYY)

State Sen. President Steve Sweeney, left, said he wants $50 million in the state budget for fiscal year 2020 to go toward so-called extraordinary aid for special education students (Joe Hernandez/WHYY)

Legislative leaders in New Jersey canceled a scheduled vote Monday on a plan to legalize recreational marijuana, citing a lack of support from members.

State Sen. President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester, said the Senate specifically did not have enough votes to pass the legislation, but the Assembly also called off its planned vote.

“I might’ve underestimated the challenge in getting this passed,” Sweeney said. “We’re postponing today. But that does in no way mean that we have failed or that we’re walking away from it.”

Sweeney said he hopes to hold a vote in the coming months as soon as he knows that there is enough support in the Senate to pass the measure.

The current legislation would legalize the use of recreational marijuana for adults and allow people with past marijuana convictions to expunge their criminal records.

Gov. Phil Murphy, who has said he supports recreational marijuana legalization, expressed disappointment at the lack of support but vowed to keep working to pass the bill.

“History is rarely made at the first attempt,” he said at a press conference. “History is often a bumpy road of fits and starts, of progress and of setbacks.”

Ten states and Washington, D.C., allow recreational marijuana, but only Vermont legalized the drug through the legislative process.

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