The governor’s office is seeking five major changes to a legislative proposal to expand the state’s medical marijuana program, according to report from NJ Advance Media, as well as a person close to the discussions who requested anonymity.
Those changes come a day after Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-19th District, cancelled an Assembly vote on the bill so Gov. Phil Murphy would have more time to offer input on the legislation, Assembly Bill 10.
“I wanted to foster an atmosphere of cooperation among the front office, the Assembly and the Senate,” Coughlin told reporters on Monday.
One sought-after change to the measure would lift the cap on the total number of medical marijuana cultivators from the currently proposed 23 up to 36. Additionally, the revisions would eliminate the 6.625 percent sales tax in three years, rather than the five years called for in the current legislation.
Another change would allow the Department of Health to oversee the state’s medical marijuana program until Jan. 1, 2021, after which the newly-created Cannabis Regulatory Commission would assume responsibility for the program.
The governor’s office is also seeking to remove language that would allow for indoor and outdoor cannabis consumption lounges, and to limit home delivery services that can be done by dispensary staff.
Murphy has been advancing his own expansion plan, which includes the addition of 108 new marijuana businesses broken down into 24 cultivation sites, 30 manufacturing facilities and 54 dispensaries.
Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District, lambasted the proposal as an “immediate and uncontrolled expansion” which could “be destructive to what is a newly-expanding marketplace.”
He told reporters after Monday’s Senate voting session that he would appreciate the governor’s office provide input before bills land on his desk so that a conditional veto can be avoided.
“There’s a process that makes this a lot easier, which is when you see the bills, you talk about them, before we pass them, not after we pass them,” Sweeney said.
“So [Coughlin] and myself mentioned to the governor we would be happy to look at any concerns they have on the marijuana bill, not that we’ll agree or disagree… but at least try not to get into a situation where we pass a bill and then we have to go through an override threat,” he added.