Legislation to improve access to medical marijuana for more New Jersey patients who could benefit from it will head to the Senate after the full Assembly approved the measure in a 65-5-6 vote on Thursday.
The measure is sponsored by Assemblymembers Joann Downey, Joseph Danielsen, Eliana Pintor Marin, Andrew Zwicker, Eric Houghtaling and Carol Murphy, all Democrats.
“I am proud to see the Legislature moved to provide patients with access to proven effective treatments based on medicinal marijuana,” said Downey, D-11th District. “Movement of this legislation is in honor of residents who are suffering from a life-threatening medical condition and looking for viable medical answers to improve their quality,” she said in a statement.
Assembly Bills 10-3740-3437 would establish the Cannabis Regulatory Commission to oversee the implementation and regulation of medical cannabis in the state. Among the commission’s directives will be to expand access to medical marijuana for patients with a diagnosed medical condition; regulate the cultivation, wholesale and dispensary businesses aspects; develop a new category of designated caregiver for patients who require assistance such as seniors; and broaden the list of approved forms for medical cannabis.
“Any step that removes the many bureaucratic hurdles a patient and their families have to jump through to get access to the medicine they need is a step in the right direction,” said Danielsen, D-17th District. “Now the medicinal marijuana program can begin to meet the current demand for this type of treatment where in the past they were rendered incapable and ineffective under previous unfairly, strict regulations. This is the way to go for New Jersey improving access and supporting the access with opportunity.”
“This legislation will impact New Jersey residents in two significant ways. We’re helping patients gain access to new treatments that will help them to live better with an illness,” said Pintor Marin, D-29th District. “And, through the expansion of the medical marijuana program, we’re creating new opportunities for business and career growth in a burgeoning industry.”
“Once enacted, this legislation will provide patients with another treatment modality which can give them relief from debilitating symptoms as a result of their medical conditions,” said Zwicker, D-16th District. “New Jersey will be taking a significant step forward in how we improve patients’ quality of life and treat the symptoms of severe and chronic illnesses.”
“Too many restrictions have weakened this program and patients have suffered for it for way too long. Medical marijuana has proven to be an effective treatment for some medical conditions,” said Houghtaling, D-11th District. “The goal here was to really help people who are dealing with life-changing, long-term medical conditions. We have to make this treatment even more accessible and more versatile- to help residents live their best lives for themselves and their families.”
“We want to put patients and doctors back in charge of a patient’s medical care plan,” said Murphy, D-7th District. “These are the reasonable changes to the current system we need to make patient care and their individual needs a priority and support them wherever they are in their lives.”