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NJ Senate Hearing To Focus On Possibility Of Legalizing Marijuana

ENGLEWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- New Jersey lawmakers will consider the possibility Monday of legalizing recreational marijuana use in the state.

The state Senate is holding a judiciary hearing on the hot-button issue, WCBS 880's Levon Putney reported.

Lawmakers are closely studying Colorado, Oregon and Washington, where pot use has been legalized.

Some of the big question marks center on tax dollars, business growth, security and whether banks would participate.

"We're going to have a model to measure from to see what's good, what's bad," Senate President Steve Sweeney said. "Is it the right decision? Is it not the right decision? But we'll have enough information to make an informed decision."

Sweeney, D-West Deptford, said it's a conversation that must be had despite Gov. Chris Christie still being in office.

"Look, this governor won't sign it. He's already said that," Sweeney said. "But we're hoping that if it's a good deal for New Jersey, the next one will."

Last week, state Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, proposed a bill to legalize the drug.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo, D-Wood-Ridge, said times and people have changed.

"Philosophically, I've been opposed to legalizing marijuana over the years," he said.

But "I'm willing to look at the dollars that potentially the state could get out of it. Many of those dollars, unfortunately right now, are being funneled through a black market, and that's not good, either."

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