TRENTON — Minutes after being chosen Monday as the next speaker of the New Jersey Assembly, Craig Coughlin declined to commit to a key goal of Gov.-elect and fellow Democrat Phil Murphy: legalizing marijuana.
Coughlin, D-Middlesex, said during a news conference that he has “not indicated” whether or not he supports legal pot.
“I want to make sure it makes sense,” said Coughlin, a member of the Assembly since 2010 . “As with any bill — particularly any bill that would create something new — I think the devil is really in the details. And I think we need to understand it in its totality.”
“Even if we’re going to do it, I want to make sure the bill is the right bill,” he added.
Murphy said Monday he planned to meet with Coughlin and state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, in the coming days to discuss marijuana and more.
Murphy also noted that he felt he had a mandate to legalize marijuana based on his 13-point win last Tuesday over Republican Kim Guadagno.
“We got a pretty resounding victory last week based on what everyone knew was our agenda,” Murphy said after an event in Newark. “That’s on it.”
“I’m looking forward to comparing notes and getting to work,” he added.
Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, has been staunchly opposed to legalizing recreational marijuana, calling it a “gateway drug.”
But Murphy, who won last Tuesday’s election and will succeed Christie in January, has vowed to legalize and tax marijuana. He says it’s needed to make the criminal justice system more fair and that it will bring in more than $300 million a year in tax revenue.
Once Murphy assumes office, Democrats will control the governor’s seat and both houses of the state Legislature.
Democratic state lawmakers have already introduced bills to legalize recreational