A bill co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin to expand access to medical cannabis for all eligible patients in New Jersey was advanced through the Assembly Appropriations Committee Monday.
The bill (A-10) would revise the regulatory structure for New Jersey's medical cannabis program, shifting the primary administration from the Department of Health (DOH) to the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC), which is to be formed under the adult-use cannabis bill currently advancing through the Legislature, as well as increase access to and expand licensure for medical cannabis.
“We are finally removing the burdensome restrictions in place for our state’s medical cannabis patients,” Pintor Marin said. “By doing this, we are ensuring that patients in New Jersey are able to receive the best care possible.”
Highlights of the bill include:
changing the term "debilitating medical condition," currently used to be eligible for medical cannabis to "qualifying medical condition," greatly expanding access for individuals in need of medical cannabis;
codifying conditions added by the Medical Marijuana Review Panel in January 2018, which would include chronic pain of musculoskeletal or nervous origin, anxiety, migraine, Tourette's Syndrome and menstrual pain;
amending requirements for authorizing medical cannabis for patients. This legislation repeals the current requirements for physicians to "certify" patients for the medical use of cannabis and allows physician assistants and advanced practice nurses to authorize patients to use medical cannabis;
the establishment of three new basic permit types: Cultivator, Manufacturer and Dispensary, as well as a special integrated curriculum permit and clinical registrant permit, with twenty-five percent of permits dedicated to minorities, women and disabled veterans;
amending the requirement for a psychiatrist to approve a minor for medical cannabis to instead require approval from a board certified pediatric specialist, or physician assistant or advanced nurse practitioner with equivalent certification;
increasing eligible forms of medical cannabis to include transdermal forms, sublingual forms and tincture forms, as well as removing restrictions under current law for edibles for minors; additionally, the bill also explicitly includes "oils" in the list of edible forms;
the phasing out of the sales tax structure for medical cannabis, beginning at 5% for FY20 and FY21, 3% in FY22, 1% in FY23, and no tax commencing in FY24;
overhauling regulations on caregivers in order to allow them to provide the best care possible to medical cannabis patients; and
adding protections for patients, caregivers, physicians and alternative care centers to treat medical cannabis as any ordinary prescription medication.
The bill, which was cosponsored by Assembly Democrats Joe Danielsen, Herb Conaway, Andrew Zwicker, Joann Downey, Eric Houghtaling and Carol Murphy, now goes to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.