TRENTON – Just hours after we vowed not to write another marijuana story until Gov. Phil Murphy finally signs legislation. He clearly sensed our frustration over this lingering saga, quickly signing three bills yesterday that will launch a whole new, exciting industry in the state. This hurdle was not easy – requiring a ballot question in which 2.7 million New Jerseyans voiced support, followed by three months of maddening negotiations over such thorny issues as taxes, licensing rules, social justice and penalties for kiddies caught with weed. And finally, yesterday, state lawmakers dragged themselves to the finish line, watching the governor sign the bills before collapsing in a heap of relief.

TRENTON – So, now what? Bongs for everyone? Well, like everything else in New Jersey, the roll out of the rolled joint will take some time. The state will need to license new dispensaries to address the demand – beyond the 13 medical marijuana shops. There will soon be a hard-working, full-time Cannabis Regulatory Commission that will oversee this budding industry and set up all the rules and regulations of which we all must abide. So, in the interim, many New Jerseyans may still need to buy from that snot-nosed kid down the street, but at least without worry of arrest. The law now allows any of us to carry up to six ounces – more than plenty to get anyone through another pandemic weekend.

TRENTON – For at least this fleeting moment, the governor is a popular guy. Not only is he legalizing weed, he is also letting up on some of these coronavirus restrictions. It looks like the state is over the hill on the second wave of this thing, prompting Murphy to now expand occupancy at houses of worship – just in time for Lent, Purim and other early spring observances. Also, our large concert halls and arenas can be at 10% capacity beginning Monday, a savior for the gasping Prudential Center in Newark, casino venues and other large places that depend on people willing to buy $13 canned beer.

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 BRIEFING BREATHER

At room temperature, an apple will ripen 6-10 times faster than in the refrigerator. 

TRENTON – Wait, even more sunshine and rainbows? Murphy is set to deliver his annual budget address today. It appears – knock us over with a feather – that there will be no state tax increases or fees during his re-election year, Politico reports. The state is clawing out of this pandemic, as the economic outlook brightens, while also infused with plenty of federal cash. Of course, there are plenty of entities out there vying for attention in the fiscal ’22 spending plan, like our schools, our businesses, our clean-energy programs, our rail service, our roads, etc. But with all 120 seats in our state Legislature up for grabs this November, as well as the governor gig, no one wants to talk taxes and how they continue to climb in New Jersey, pandemic or not.

STATEWIDE – Now it can’t all be good. Truly disappointing news from Dairy Queen, reporting that for the second year in a row, it is cancelling its free ice cream day to coincide with the first day of spring on March 20. No one is happy – once again – to be without a free small vanilla soft serve. I scream. You scream. We all scream. Let’s blame Murphy.

EDISON – People around here really love Lucy, or more specifically the “Lucille Ball Pond,” at a stately old home on the Edison-Metuchen border. A two-year fight to save the 20,000-year-old glacial pond has flared up after the property owner filed state permits to fill in the pond and build three new houses on the Clive Street site. The Home News Tribune says more than 800 homeowners from neighboring towns, including their mayors, want the freshwater pond preserved. Their objections have nothing to do with the famed comedian; Lucy considered buying the home in the 1960s, but didn’t go through with it. Area residents say the pond is a lovely natural habitat for turtles, frogs, salamanders, heron and deer – which is why, in true Edison fashion – it must be destroyed, then overbuilt and ultimately marketed as the “Lucille Ball Pond Estates.”

COLTS NECK - The coolness factor of this town has vastly improved, home to a podcast recording between Bruce Springsteen and President Obama. Yesterday, Spotify released the first two episodes of “Renegades: Born in the USA,” featuring the 44th president and the Boss talking about everything from being fathers, to race, to all the divisions in this country that many are praying to patch. The recordings are from plenty of one-on-one chats between the two pals last year, talking about their visions of the American ideal. Of course, a guitar is perched nearby.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

SAN FRANCISCO – There’s a “new” house at 635 Fulton St. Actually, not that new. It was constructed 139 years ago at 807 Franklin St., but was very, very gently loaded onto massive dollies and very, very carefully moved over the weekend to its new home six blocks away. Workers trucked the Victorian, two-story house at 1 mph, the most harrowing part of the trip being the immediate downhill slope. The San Francisco Chronicle says it's not that simple to just move a house in the city, noting the property owner required permits from 15 separate agencies who love their red tape. Moreover, as part of the big move, the property owner needed to pay $400,000 to rip up parking meters, trim trees on the route and relocate traffic signs, as onlookers gawked. But now the saved, historic fixer-upper is safely in its new spot – perhaps for the next 139 years.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 1993 that Gary Coleman successfully sues his parents for $1.28 million for “high fees.” No comment from Willis.

WORD OF THE DAY

Habeas Corpus – [HAY-bee-us-KOR-pus] – noun

Definition: A writ entitling detainees convicted in state courts to appeal to federal courts if they believe their rights were violated at trial or during sentencing.

Example: I’ve forgotten my high school civics class, so I needed to once again Google “habeas corpus.”

WIT OF THE DAY

“Football is a game designed to keep coal miners off the streets.”

-Jimmy Breslin

BIDEN BLURB

“Hell, I might be president now if it weren't for the fact I said I had an uncle who was a coal miner.”

-Joe Biden

WEATHER IN A WORD

Drops