Bill expanding New Jersey’s medical marijuana program heads to Murphy

Posted: Updated:

A bill designed to expand New Jersey’s medical marijuana program is heading to Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk for approval.

The state Senate approved the “Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act" Thursday afternoon with a vote of 33 to 4. The bill passed overwhelmingly in the state Assembly last week.

Before state senators voted on the bill, there was a brief debate about sales tax. Some legislators did not like the fact that a sales tax remains on the product.

RELATED: State Assembly passes bill expanding medical marijuana program 

"To add sales tax to medical marijuana is a crime. Why is that a crime? In no other case of any medicine in the state of New Jersey do we charge sales tax,” said Republican state Sen. Bob Singer. “How dare we use the term medical, when it is, and charge poor people, and working people and families sales tax on something that helps them feel better.”

Singer did end up voting yes on the bill. The bill will phase out the sales tax on Jan. 1, 2025.

New Jersey’s medical marijuana program would double in size under the act. It would also allow more marijuana growers to apply for licenses. Patients can also get home cannabis delivery or utilize medical marijuana inside a dispensary if they choose.

The Legislature will now look at bills to decriminalize marijuana and expunge criminal records of people with marijuana-related charges. But a vote on these bills has not been scheduled.

The push to expand the medical marijuana program comes as lawmakers failed to get enough support to pass a bill to legalize recreational marijuana. State Senate President Steve Sweeney says that a ballot referendum to legalize the substance is expected to be on the 2020 ballot. He says that since this is an election year, more people are expected to come out to vote.

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