The Legislature is fast-tracking a revised bill expanding the state’s medical marijuana program to Gov. Phil Murphy while the administration holds off on its own expansion plans in an effort to ease tensions over the move.
Assembly Bill and Senate Bill 20, which the lower house approved by 66-5 vote with 6 abstentions and the upper house approved in a 31-5 vote, retains many provisions of the original medical marijuana legislation.
“The medicinal uses of marijuana have been proven safe for years, and yet, in New Jersey we have arbitrarily restricted patients’ access since our program’s inception,” sponsor Sen. Joe Vitale, D-19th District said in a Thursday statement.
“In many instances, marijuana can be a safer and even more effective alternative to other pharmaceuticals, particularly in the case of opioids,” he added.
A20 would phase out the sales tax on medical marijuana, cutting it from 6.625 percent to 4 percent on July 1, 2020, then to 2 percent on July 1, 2021. The tax would be eliminated completely on July 1, 2022.
Any tax revenue from medical marijuana sales would be “exclusively appropriated to programs for the treatment of mental health and substance use disorders,” according to the bill. A prior expansion measure, Assembly Bill 10, would have retained the sales tax until January 2025.