Battle over legalizing marijuana taking shape in New Jersey

Ricardo Rivera of Oakland holds a picture of his 8-year-old daughter, Tatyana "Tuffy" Rivera, who suffers from severe epilepsy during a hearing Monday, Nov. 16, 2015, in Trenton.

For the first time in New Jersey history, state lawmakers on Monday debated whether to legalize recreational marijuana and collected hours of testimony from experts who support taxing and regulating the drug like alcohol.

But that’s as much as they plan to do for now.

No bills are being voted on and no one is negotiating with Governor Christie, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination who has been a staunch critic of legalizing drugs. Christie — who has said “I am completely, 100 percent opposed to drug legalization” — would need to sign any bill before marijuana could be sold openly.

Even proponents of legalization concede that marijuana is likely to remain a banned, criminal substance for the foreseeable future in...

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