Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex) issued the following statement in response to Senate President Steve Sweeney’s announcement that the Senate will act on bills to expand the state’s medical marijuana program and revise the process of expungement:
“I’m disappointed that we are currently unable to pass the adult-use cannabis bill. I agree with the Senate President’s decision to move ahead with a bill to fix the flaws in the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act and make medical marijuana more accessible to patients who could benefit from it.
“For many suffering from critical and chronic illnesses, increasing access to medical marijuana will mean the difference between being able to participate in life or having to suffer every day with intense pain and debilitating symptoms.
“I am pleased to learn the Senate President also plans to act on legislation that would revise the procedures for expunging records of certain marijuana-related convictions. Broader regulation around expungement will give thousands of New Jerseyans the opportunity to right the wrongs of the past and clean the slate making it easier to gain employment, buy a home or get a loan.
“Social justice and social equity have always been the foundation of support for me and my caucus for adult use cannabis. Those issues should not fall by the wayside if we are not able to achieve the votes for adult-use cannabis. Too many of our residents, particularly those of color, have been marked for life over a mistake they’ve made once in their youth. This is a social justice issue that must, and will be addressed.
“I am currently reviewing the legislative measures and plan to move ahead in the General Assembly.”