Medical Marijuana Expansion Heads To Senate

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TRENTON – A bill expanding medical marijuana has passed two hurdles toward being passed, a representative reported.

The bill was passed by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee in a vote earlier today. It was then sent to the Budget And Appropriations Committee, where it also passed, according to Richard McGrath, a spokesman for the New Jersey Democrats. It now heads to the full Senate for a vote.

The bill would allow its use for a more extensive list of diagnosed conditions, increase the number of dispensaries, expand the list of professionals who can authorize patients for the medical use of cannabis, increase access to  caregivers, increase the amount of medical cannabis that patients could obtain and phase-out the tax on cannabis used for medicinal purposes, according to a press release.

If it is signed into law, it would change the language from “debilitating medical condition” to “qualifying medical condition.” The list of conditions would be expanded to include: seizure disorder, including epilepsy; intractable skeletal muscular spasticity; post-traumatic stress disorder; glaucoma; positive status for human immunodeficiency virus; acquired immune deficiency syndrome; cancer; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; multiple sclerosis; muscular dystrophy; inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease; anxiety; migraine; Tourette’s syndrome; dysmenorrhea; chronic pain; or any other medical condition or its treatment that is later approved by the CRC.

If passed, qualifying patients would no longer have to exhaust other treatment options before using medical marijuana as treatment. They would also be allowed to visit any dispensary, rather than being assigned one site.

It would also exempt those who are expected to live less than a year from the 30-day supply limit.

Additionally, it would allow all patients to obtain different forms of marijuana, including edible options, which are currently limited only to minors.

Sales tax would also be phased out by 2023.

On the prescribing side, it would allow any physician to prescribe cannabis for any diagnosed condition, not just the ones already prescribed. Physician assistants and advanced practice nurses would also be allowed to authorize patients for medical cannabis.

Oversight of the medicinal marijuana program would be handled by the Cannabis Regulatory Commission.