The Garden State is moving closer to legalizing recreational marijuana and it could happen sooner rather than later.
In just a matter of months, legalized recreational marijuana in New Jersey has gone from a maybe to an almost slam dunk. It could become the ninth state to do.
Inside a hearing room, few witnesses spoke out against the idea.
“From the medical standpoint, marijuana should never have been illegal for consenting adults,” Dr. David Nathan said.
One of the few in opposition is Dr. Sheri Rosen.
“You’re sending the wrong message by legalizing,” she said. “You’re saying that it’s OK, and there’s no harm. People are going to get mixed messages.”
From Democrats, the most serious dissent coming from Sen. Nia Gill, who’s worried about one provision in the bill.
“I do believe in legalization,” she said. “But not at the expense of criminalizing young black and Latino youth.”
Recreational marijuana already legal on a state level in eight states and the District of Columbia, Colorado's experience as one of the first is a model of sorts for New Jersey.
The support is there for Senate President Steve Sweeney.
“I’m not 100 percent with you on this,” Sweeney said. “I’m 1,000 percent."
The democratic candidate for governor, Phil Murphy, is already on record in favor of legalization.
The goal of the hearing is not to pass this year, but early next year if he wins.
“My goal is to have the best bill possible for a Murphy administration within the first 100 days so we can get it signed, sealed and delivered,” state Sen. Nicholas Scutari said.
Scutari said he is laying the groundwork with the hearing, so that come January his bill will be ready to go.