NJ Lawmakers Plan to Vote on Long-Awaited Changes to Marijuana Policies

Recreational use on agenda, along with significant expansion of state’s medicinal cannabis program.

Lawmakers plan to return to Trenton after Thanksgiving to vote on long-awaited proposals to legalize recreational adult use of marijuana in New Jersey and expand access to the state’s medicinal cannabis program. Among the most notable changes for medicinal marijuana is one that would allow any physician — not just those who register — to prescribe cannabis for any diagnosed condition, not only those already prescribed by law or state policy.

The controversial legislation to legalize pot possession and personal use by residents over the age of 21 — the subject of widespread attention over the past year — is scheduled for a hearing before the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on Monday, following months of wrangling by supporters to secure sufficient support.

But also on the agenda for both the budget committee and the Senate health committee are two bipartisan bills that would plug myriad gaps in New Jersey’s medicinal marijuana program, a popular initiative with broad legislative support. These would eliminate the current 6.6 percent sales tax on medicinal marijuana over three years, and significantly reform how it can be prescribed. While these measures were introduced months ago, and one was the subject of an Assembly hearing in March, they have stalled while legislative leaders amassed votes for the legalization plan.

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