Bill for the Expansion of Medical Marijuana Program Passed by The New Jersey Assembly

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On Thursday, the Democrat-led Assembly of New Jersey passed a bill for the expansion of the state’s medical marijuana program.

The bill was sent to the Democrat-led Senate following the assembly vote of 65-5 with 6 abstentions. The legislation gets its name from Jake Honig, a 7-year old from Howell, who passed away last year battling with brain tumor. His parents had put up a fight for more easier cannabis access in order to relieve the pain caused due to few illnesses.

Craig Coughlin, the Assembly speaker stated that “For many suffering from critical and chronic illnesses, increasing access to medicinal cannabis will mean the difference between being able to participate in life or having to suffer every day with intense pain and debilitating symptoms.”

After failing to get decent votes in the month of March in order to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes, lawmakers have now focused their attention to expand the medical marijuana program.

As per the new medical marijuana expansion program, the number of licenses that the cultivators can hold has been increased to 23. As of today, the number of treatment centers available in the state is six, with six more to be planned in the future.

The new program also ensures that the program is overseen by a commission made up of 5 people. As of today, the same is looked after by the Health Department.

The program has made it easier to gain access to cannabis. As per the current law, the authorization of the drug is solely dependent on the doctors. But the new program allows physician attendants and also few nurses to authorize the use of cannabis.

Amongst few changes, the legislation will also terminate the state’s 6.625% sales tax in the year 2025. Earlier the Republicans had tried to vote for the termination of sales tax but were turned down by the Democratic majority.

The new measure has finally put an end to sales tax for medical marijuana. However, the new measure allows the town to put a transfer tax of around 2% for dispensed cannabis.

Democratic Governor, Phil Murphy has mixed opinions with respect to the efforts put out by the lawmakers now for the expansion of the medical marijuana program. He has also undertaken actions in order to increase the number of illnesses which can be treated under the program.

Though the future of recreational marijuana is unknown, the Senate President Steve Sweeney was quoted stating that he will follow a ballot question for legalization of the drug. Neither Murphy nor Coughlin have either opposed or endorsed the notion.

New Jersey is one of those dozen states which have a medical marijuana program. In addition to the District of Columbia, ten other states have legalized the use of marijuana for recreational purposes.

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