One of the key issues holding up New Jersey leaders from legalizing recreational marijuana is how much the tax rate on weed would be — and it’s still unclear if the state’s top two elected officials are close to agreeing.
As for Gov. Phil Murphy? He wouldn’t say Wednesday whether he’s OK with Sweeney’s stance or what tax rate he’d prefer instead.
“I’ve never hung my name on any tax rate,” Murphy said during an unrelated public event in Newark. “To be determined.”
Murphy also wouldn’t say whether he believes it’s plausible to meet Sweeney’s goal of having lawmakers vote on legalizing pot on Oct. 29.
“It’s more important to get it right than get it fast,” Murphy said.
Murphy and Sweeney, both Democrats, are in favor of legalizing marijuana, as is New Jersey’s third-highest-ranking elected official, state Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex.
Murphy wants the Democrat-controlled state Legislature to pass a bill by the end of the year.
But lawmakers have yet to formally introduce one and continue to tangle over details, including the tax rate. A recent version of the legislation had the proposed rate at 10 percent — which would be the lowest in the U.S.
Published reporters citing anonymous sources have said Murphy prefers a 25 percent rate, though he has yet to say any number in public.
It’s also unclear whether there will be enough votes in either the Senate or Assembly to pass the measure. Numerous lawmakers from both political parties remain undecided.
Both houses must pass the bill before Murphy can sign it.
Murphy said he was planning to meet with both Sweeney and Coughlin on Wednesday night and that pot would be a topic.