- New Jersey lawmakers on Monday postponed a vote to legalize marijuana.
- Democratic Governor Phil Murphy couldn't marshal enough support for the bill in the state's 40-member Senate.
- Despite the bill's failure in New Jersey, marijuana legalization initiatives swept the US last year.
- Recreational marijuana is now legal in 10 states; medical marijuana is legal in 33.
New Jersey lawmakers on Monday postponed a vote to legalize marijuana, despite support from the state's governor, legislative leaders, and 60% of residents (according to recent polls).
The bill, which would have legalized the use and sale of marijuana for adults over the age of 21 and expunged the criminal records of New Jersey residents convicted of possessing marijuana, was a centerpiece of Democratic Governor Phil Murphy's campaign.
Despite the support, New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney pulled the vote at the last minute, as Murphy could not marshal enough votes to get majority support in the state's 40 member Senate.
"Certainly, I'm disappointed, but we are not defeated," said Murphy, per The New York Times. "Justice may be delayed, but justice will not be denied."
The bill's failure may not portend well for New York, where some lawmakers have said they will block any marijuana legalization bill that doesn't provide a pathway for minority entrepreneurs to share the new industry's profits.
It's not yet clear when Murphy will hold a new vote to legalize marijuana. It's possible that the state's legislature will revisit the issue before the June 30 deadline for the next state budget, reports NJ.com.
Despite the bill's failure in New Jersey, marijuana legalization expanded throughout the US and the world last year.
President Donald Trump signed the bipartisan Farm Bill into law in December of last year, which legalized hemp - a plant that's roughly identical to marijuana but doesn't contain THC, a psychoactive compound in marijuana - nationwide.
Hemp is also a source of CBD, or cannabidiol, a popular, if scientifically untested ingredient in many cannabis-infused products.
In last year's midterm elections, Michigan became the 10th state to legalize recreational marijuana, and Utah and Missouri voted to legalize medical marijuana.
Deep-red Oklahoma also voted to legalize medical marijuana last year, joining numerous other states that have such laws on the books.
Vermont became the first state to legalize marijuana through its Legislature last year as well, rather than a ballot initiative when the governor signed the bill into law.
Ten states and Washington, DC, have now legalized marijuana for recreational use for adults over 21. And 33 states have legalized medical marijuana.
Marijuana prohibition began 80 years ago when the federal government banned the sale, cultivation, and use of the cannabis plant. It remains illegal at the federal level.
Overturning prohibition is one of the few hot-button topics with widespread support.
A recent poll by the Pew Research Center found that 62% of Americans, including 74% of millennials, said they supported legalizing marijuana.
Last year was also a banner year for marijuana legalization globally.
Last, October Canada legalized marijuana federally, becoming the first G7 country to do so.
Mexico's Supreme Court also ruled that marijuana prohibition is unconstitutional, paving the way for the country's new leader, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, to follow Canada's lead.
Melia Robinson contributed to an earlier version of this post.
- Read more:
- 'Everybody thinks they're going to make billions overnight': Mexico's former president says the cannabis industry isn't a gold rush
- Old-school accounting firms are finding the emerging marijuana industry to be an unexpected goldmine - and a minefield
- A cannabis CEO who led turnarounds at FAO Schwarz and Patagonia explains why he's looking to poach 'nimble' people from small companies - rather than big-name execs
- An early investor in Juul is raising $75 million to make venture investments in pot companies
Adults 21 and over can light up in Alaska. In early 2015, the northernmost US state made it legal for residents to use, possess, and transport up to an ounce of marijuana- roughly a sandwich bag full - for recreational use. The first pot shop opened for business in late 2016.
Alaska has pounced on the opportunity to make its recreational pot shops a destination for tourists. More than two million people visit Alaska annually and spend $2 billion.
California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana back in 1996. California became even more pot-friendly in 2016 when it made it legal to use and carry up to an ounce of marijuana.
The law also permits adults 21 and over to buy up to eight grams of marijuana concentrates, which are found in edibles, and grow no more than six marijuana plants per household.
Getting Californians to buy legal weed - rather than from the black market - has been challenging since the law took effect, The New York Times reports.