Legalization conversation continues into 2019; lawmakers at an impasse on tax rate
Last update: January 3, 2019
The New Jersey Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee and the Assembly Appropriations Committee each voted on Monday, November 26 to advance bills to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for adult use. A summary of S2703 and A4497 is available in the sidebar on the right.
Public support for legalization is strong, at 60% of New Jerseyans according to a recent poll, and Gov. Phil Murphy has repeatedly stated his strong support for the concept, emphasizing the need to address the harms caused by prohibition. The New Jersey bills would do so by ensuring that people convicted of low-level marijuana offenses have an expedited path to expungement.
Despite the political will to pass legalization in New Jersey, lawmakers haven’t come to an agreement on all the details. One of the major sticking points is the tax rate of marijuana. Gov. Phil Murphy would like a higher tax rate than Senate President Stephen Sweeney.
Please call Gov. Phil Murphy at 609-292-6000 and Senate President Stephen Sweeney at 856-251-9801 and ask that they come to a compromise and bring legalization up for a vote early this year. Marijuana prohibition has cost New Jersey millions of dollars and ruined thousands of lives. It’s time for it to end.
Lawmakers are expected to vote on legalization this year, so it’s important that your legislators continue to hear from you. Please let your lawmakers know that you support ending New Jersey’s failed policy of marijuana prohibition.
Health Department expands New Jersey’s medical marijuana program; lawmakers considering a bill as well
New Jersey’s medical cannabis program was stifled for years by unreasonably strict regulations. Gov. Murphy, shortly after taking office in 2018, ordered the Department of Health to expand access to the program.
The health department adopted the recommendations of a panel of experts, adding irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, Tourette’s syndrome, migraines, opioid use disorder, and chronic pain as qualifying conditions. These and other changes, like reduced patient fees, have dramatically expanded the number of patients.
In December 2018, the health department awarded six additional medical marijuana dispensary licenses, effectively doubling the number of operators from six to a total of 12. Patients will soon have more access to purchase the medicine that they need.
Also at a November 26, 2018 hearing, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to advance a bill, SCS2426, that would improve the program in several ways. One of the most important for patients is eliminating the onerous requirement, which other states do not impose, that patients get recertified by their doctor every 90 days.
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