Separate permitting systems
The rules also provide new guidance to the Medicinal Marijuana Review Panel, which advises the state on cannabis policy, and create separate permitting systems for cultivation, manufacturing and dispensing operations in an effort to make more marijuana available to the public and at more locations. Until now, these three aspects of the business were bundled together under a single permitting process.
“These rules solidify key program reforms to ensure greater patient access to this effective therapy,” DOH Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal said. “With these changes, the Department will be able to add conditions more rapidly, remove barriers for minors and increase supply of product available.”
The development comes as efforts to grow the program legislatively have stalled after lawmakers tied medical marijuana reform proposals to a controversial package of bills to legalize adult cannabis use, which has divided members of the controlling Democratic Party. Murphy, a Democrat, made legalizing marijuana a major plank in his run for governor, but has recently refocused on growing the medicinal program.
(Lawmakers continue to struggle with the legalization measures as debate heats up around the state budget, which must be approved by July. Sen. Declan O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth, is scheduled to hold a press conference to discuss marijuana legislation today.)