The wait continues for legislation to expand New Jersey’s medical marijuana program to reach Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk.
Lawmakers in the state Assembly were expected to vote Monday to send the bill to Murphy but the vote was pulled at the last minute due to possible changes being sought by the governor.
The bill has already been amended several times during the last several months and more changes would require votes by the full Assembly and Senate again before Murphy can act on it.
While the governor has been an outspoken proponent of expanding access to medical marijuana in the state, he’s given no indication he’s willing to sign the legislation as written.
To be sure, Murphy is believed to support many of the sweeping changes proposed in the Legislature’s expansion bill. Among the most notable changes the bill seeks is an increase in the monthly limit of marijuana that patients can legally purchase from 2 to 3 ounces, phasing out of the state tax on medical marijuana by 2025 and provisions to allow dispensaries to make home deliveries and open indoor and outdoor consumption areas.
But other components in the legislation, such as the creation of a new commission to oversee and regulate the medical marijuana program rather than the Department of Health, appear to differ with Murphy’s own expansion plans, which the administration announced last week.
The administration’s plans call for the state Department of Health to begin accepting applications next month for as many as 108 new medical marijuana licenses, including 54 new dispensaries, 30 manufacturing sites and 24 cultivation sites.
By comparison, the Legislature’s bill calls for no more than 23 cultivation licenses and charges the new commission with deciding how many total licenses for dispensaries, manufacturing and wholesale should be made available.