But legislation advanced Thursday by the Assembly health committee, a combination of A-3437 and A-3740, does away with that list and says marijuana can be prescribed for “any medical condition diagnosed by a physician,” including symptoms resulting from medical treatments.
“What we’re doing is lifting the restrictions and putting it in the patients’ and doctors’ hands,” said Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, D-Mercer, one of the sponsors of the state’s original medical marijuana legislation.
In addition to helping more patients get relief, supporters hope greater access will contribute to the fight against the state’s ongoing opioid epidemic.
“I believe it will save lives,” said Assemblyman Herb Conaway, D-Burlington, chair of the health committee and a practicing physician. “There’s at least empirical evidence in states that have increased access to marijuana… that opioid deaths come down. Now, we haven’t proven causation yet, but I think the correlation is compelling.”
The bill passed 6-2 with two abstentions and no Republican support.
The measure comes as Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy is calling for an expansion of the state’s medical marijuana program and legalization of the drug for recreational use. The $37.4 billion budget he proposed last week assumes $20 million in revenue from medical marijuana and another $60 million from taxing recreational marijuana sales.