TRENTON, N.J. – Democrats have failed to pass legislation helping the nearly 50,000 medical marijuana patients across the state in an attempt to pass recreational marijuana. Assembly Republicans Hal Wirths and John DiMaio are challenging legislative Democrats to act in the interest of constituents who rely on medical marijuana and pass legislation.
The governor and commissioner of health recently announced unilateral changes to expand the program.
“Medical marijuana expansion should have been passed months ago, but instead Democrats are prioritizing politics over patients,” said Wirths (R-Sussex). “New Jersey’s medical marijuana program is too expensive for patients who have to pay out of pocket, and there aren’t enough dispensaries for people to conveniently access their medicine. Legislation would fix that if that were actually a priority.”
Though medical marijuana is treated by New Jersey doctors and patients as a prescription, the state treats it differently. Key differences include the costs attached to medical marijuana, such as a $100 registration fee and sales tax. No other prescriptions require a registration fee or are subject to sales taxes.
Murphy and legislative Democrats are considering a sales tax on opioid distributors as part of the fiscal 2020 budget. Marijuana has been touted as a viable replacement for opioids.
“Unlike other unaffordable medicine, medical marijuana is taxed – adding insult to injury. And it isn’t even covered by insurance,” said DiMaio (R-Warren). “Affordable health care is accessible health care. But because of the Democrats’ political wrangling medical marijuana patients have neither affordable nor accessible health care.”
An ounce of medical marijuana in New Jersey is the most expensive in the nation, ranging from $340 to $520. That doesn’t include the 6.625 percent sales tax, which is imposed on cannabis patients. DiMaio has a bill to eliminate the sales tax on medical marijuana, but Democrats would continue taxing the prescription for five years under their proposal.
“The only reason to tax a person’s medicine is for revenue. That is completely immoral,” continued DiMaio. “The number of people benefiting from medical marijuana is growing, but the state’s cost is still too much to be considered anything better than a pharmaceutical company price gouging patients.”
“Democrats need to do the right thing and pass medical marijuana legislation. There are too many people that need it but either can’t get it or can’t afford it,” concluded Wirths.