Gov. Phil Murphy, who successfully pushed to legalize cannabis for recreational use, said he wasn’t concerned that the state may not meet a Feb. 22 deadline for selling weed to the public.
“I’d rather get it right than get it fast,” Murphy told NJ Advance Media on Sunday. “They’re doing a really good job. They want to do a job that’s different and better than any other state that’s ever done it, in particular as it relates to addressing inequities, which has been a central theme of mine.”
Murphy used his State of the State and his second inaugural address this month to tout the positive impact on the economy and jobs that he said he believed the state’s legal cannabis industry would have.
But he said he wasn’t concerned with the possible delay. Jeff Brown, executive director of the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission, told NJ Cannabis Insider last week that New Jersey may not meet its self-imposed deadline for selling recreational weed.
“We all want it sooner than later but let’s make sure it’s right,” Murphy said. “That to me is the most important.”
“It’s going to be an industry that’s going to be around 50, 100, 200 years from now. Let’s get it right.”
Murphy is in Washington for the winter meeting of the National Governors Association, which he serves as vice chair of and will take over this summer. He delayed his trip due to the winter storm that blasted New Jersey, most notably the Jersey Shore.
Even as divisions between Democrats and Republicans grow over such issues as coronavirus vaccinations, Murphy said there are enough topics for the governors to come together over, referring to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis’ description of states as “laboratories of democracy.”
“There’s a significant amount of common ground,” Murphy said. “You have to exercise good judgment about where you’ve got a real shot and where you don’t, and focus on where you do. It can’t work for every policy area and you probably bang your head and get a bloody head trying to get every policy area, but double down on the areas where you can.”
One issue that didn’t lend itself to bipartisanship was voting rights, Murphy said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Even after a record turnout in the 2020 election that federal and state officials called “the most secure in American history,” 19 Republican-led states passed 34 laws restricting voting access after Donald Trump falsely claimed the election was stolen, according to New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice.
“That’s one where there’s going to be a pretty partisan debate and divide, honestly,” Murphy said. “We’re expanding it in New Jersey and we’re proud of that. We want to expand it further. I know other states are taking a different approach to that. That’s probably one that we’re going to have to agree to disagree, sadly in my opinion. But there’s a lot of common ground: infrastructure, education, and so on.”