Gov. Phil Murphy has said he's confident the 2019 budget will include $49 million in tax revenue from recreational marijuana, despite a lack of any bill to legalize, tax and regulate adult-use cannabis.
Murphy’s stance came on Monday afternoon at a budgetary press conference, where he was flanked by dozens of clergy, liberal activists and union officials. His administration has criticized the Legislature’s budget as including $69 million all from an expansion of the state’s existing medicinal marijuana program, and $0 from recreational cannabis.
State Treasurer Elizabeth Muoio said at the Monday presser that the $69 million estimate – projected entirely from medicinal cannabis – isn’t “an attainable goal for medicinal.”
“The majority of what we had put in the governor’s budget was for recreational,” Muoio added.
If lawmakers and Murphy want the taxation of adult-use marijuana to be included in the budget, they’d have until June 30, and they’d first have to sign a law to legalize cannabis.
State Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-22nd District, an avid supporter of expanding cannabis use in the state, said that’s unlikely. So the Legislature’s budget will include $69 million, all from the expansion of the state’s existing medicinal marijuana program.
“Recreational is not in place yet, so there can’t be a score on it,” Scutari said last week. “I think [the state] had originally scored recreation at a certain level, and you can’t score something on recreational for budget process until it’s in law, and it’s not a law yet.”
Murphy deferred any concrete timeline to the state Legislature.
“If it’s done right, I’m supportive of it, but it has to be done right,” he said.
Murphy has not indicated which of the myriad of marijuana-related bills he’d support.