A20 would also create a five-member Cannabis Regulatory Committee to oversee the state’s expansion medical marijuana program. The medical marijuana program would be first overseen by the Department of Health before being transitioned to the CRC, but the legislation does not specify a timeframe beyond “such time as the members of the commission are appointed and the commission first organizes.”
A20 also sets the number of cannabis providers at 28 for the first 18 months, rather than the 23 proposed in A10. The 28 would include the six existing medical marijuana alternative treatment centers and the six the Murphy administration has been adding.
Those businesses are now “vertically integrated,” meaning they handle the cultivation, manufacturing and sale of medical marijuana. Although existing businesses would be grandfathered into the program, new entities could only engage in one component. So the bill would bar vertical integration.
The Health Department has proposed adding more than 100 new medical marijuana businesses, split between dispensaries, manufacturers and cultivation, a move criticized by lawmakers such as Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District, who said such a rapid level of expansion was “uncontrolled” and detrimental to the emerging market.
As with A10, the revised measure expands the list of medical conditions eligible for the program and expands the definition of caregiver, as well as the kinds of professionals who can prescribe medical marijuana.