Published 10:58 am, Saturday, March 3, 2018

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey’s path to potentially legal recreational marijuana could take a turn soon with a legislative hearing scheduled, though legislators are expressing caution over the legalization, a key campaign promise of Gov. Phil Murphy.

The Assembly Oversight Committee is set to hear from experts Monday on cannabis legalization, the first action taken in the Assembly on marijuana since new Democratic Speaker Craig Coughlin took over leadership of the chamber this year.

“I’m going to let the committee do its work and I’m going to look at what they’ve done. Certainly on my own I’ll start to look at the issue and do what we can to get it right,” Coughlin said.

Monday’s hearing comes as the Democratic Murphy is drafting his first budget, which he will unveil later this month, and as he tries to make good on promises to ramp up education and pension spending. Murphy has estimated that marijuana legalization could bring in roughly $300 million in revenue for the state. That’s just a fraction of what he would need to finance his proposals ,though the governor cautions that he won’t fulfill his pledges “overnight.”

Murphy made no mention of the campaign pledge to legalize marijuana during an address to the state’s business and political community Thursday in Washington.

The issue was the talk of the state Chamber of Commerce’s annual trip to Washington, where lobbyists, politicians and entrepreneurs pack an Amtrak train to talk shop. Among lawmakers, legalization got a tepid response. Some Democrats stopped short of backing legalization.

“I’m still researching it,” said Democratic Assemblywoman Annette Quijano. State Sen. Bob Gordon, a Democrat, said he’s a no, for now. Republicans look reluctant to get on board. Senate Republican Leader Tom

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