Medical cannabis will now be more accessible to patients in New Jersey.
After many delays and a long battle with legislators, Governor Phil Murphy signed the “Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act” on July 2, considerably expanding the state’s existing medical cannabis program.
The heart of the disagreements between legislators and the governor was over the sales tax and the transfer of oversight control away from the Department of Health, but a revised version of the bill was finally accepted by all sides. In the compromise, the state will continue to tax medical cannabis at 6.625 percent till July 2020 and then gradually phase the sales tax out by July 1, 2022 as opposed to 2025 in the earlier version of the bill.
Similarly, the Act allows for twenty-eight medical cannabis cultivation permits instead of twenty-three, as was suggested in an earlier version of the bill. After eighteen months, the Cannabis Regulatory Commission can determine new limits on permits. Oversight of the medical cannabis program will pass to the yet-to-be established Cannabis Regulatory Commission. Murphy wanted oversight of the program to remain with the department of health till 2021, according to a report by NJ Advance Media in June, but settled for the sales tax being phased out in three years instead of five.
Murphy’s office and the Department of Health do not have an estimate for when the commission might be established. “It’s still in the early stages,” said Alyana Alfaro, Murphy’s press secretary. The governor and the legislature together will appoint the five-member commission. Murphy will appoint three of the commission’s members by himself but the remaining two members will be appointed “on the recommendation” of Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin.