A new medical cannabis bill would eliminate sales tax more quickly, increase monthly product limit to 4 oz., and includes a pilot program for home grow cannabis.
The bill is set to be introduced Monday, May 20 by Sen. Declan O’Scanlon, R-13th District. The new bill will not have a number until early next week.
“I’m just trying to move the dialogue forward,” he said. The bill is different from Senate Bill 10, which O’Scanlon co-sponsors with Sen. Nick Scutari, D-22nd District, and Sen. Joe Vitale, D-19th District.
O’Scanlon’s bill would phase out the medical marijuana tax in two years instead of five, as proposed by SB10. But ideally, the legislation would phase the tax out even more quickly than that.
“Because of our positive revenue situation this year, I think we should phase the whole thing out this year if possible. I would remove it from next year’s budget,” he said. “We don’t tax other medications. Initially I went along with the tax because there was some real work in setting up the whole system. At the time we set it up, we had no money. It was a tough fiscal time. Bear in mind, our revenue has exceeded our budget. We have the opportunity to eliminate this now.”
O’Scanlon’s proposed home grow pilot program would have a minimum of 100 patients and limit them to four plants each, subject to inspection, testing, and logging of information. This would allow for lower-income residents to access the relief provided by medical cannabis. The limit, he said, is to eliminate the risk of a black market being supported by home grow.
“Other states have made huge mistakes with home grow,” O’Scanlon said. “In Colorado, it was so broad that they bred a continuation of a black market. Our program is almost the antithesis of how Colorado did their program initially. We have distilled the policy down to what we know will work. Our goal is to get all the benefit and none of the drawbacks.”
Additionally, O’Scanlon’s bill moves the Cannabis Regulatory Commission from the Department of the Treasury to the Department of Health and would phase up the amount medical cannabis patients can buy to 4 oz. of medicine every 30 days.
Currently, medical cannabis patients can only access 2 oz. in a 30 day period.
“My goal here is not to complicate these discussions but to augment them,” O’Scanlon said. “I think these things would improve what we’re doing. We now know here and in other states that this is an amazingly efficacious substance. There’s no way anyone can deny that.”
The bill currently has no co-sponsors, though O’Scanlon said he welcomes them.