New Jersey's 13th Legislative District

Senator Declan O'Scanlon

Senator Declan O'Scanlon

O’Scanlon Seeks to Elevate Conversation with New Medical Cannabis Bill

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Senator Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth) released details of his “wish list” medical marijuana program expansion legislation.

Sen. Declan O’Scanlon released details of his “wish list” medical marijuana program expansion legislation. (Pixabay)

“I’ve worked with stakeholders over the last several months on this legislation. I included things I’d love to see in our final bill but realize, now that there is general agreement that we will quickly be moving something forward, that I won’t get everything I want. If this bill does nothing but spur conversation I’m fine with that,” said O’Scanlon “While I do support S-10, this is my wish list for the medical program revision. There are numerous policy changes in my legislation that we should consider now that we have several years of data on our existing program’s strengths and challenges.”

O’Scanlon’s legislation differs from S-10 in several ways. It eliminates the medical marijuana sales tax more quickly, ramps up the 30 day product limit to 4 ounces, and includes a pilot for homegrow marijuana with a minimum of 100 participants.

“While I believe our State’s rosy revenue situation supports eliminating the medical marijuana tax immediately, the phaseout shouldn’t take more than two years maximum,” said O’Scanlon. “Permitting the 30 day product allotment to go to 4 oz is still sufficiently restrictive to maintain the strict clinical/medical tenor and spirit of our program.”

O’Scanlon’s home grow pilot program vision is modest. It would be subject to rigorous department inspection, testing, and logging of information. Seeds would need to be purchased from cultivators/dispensaries. Each participant would be permitted to have up to only 4 plants.

“I realize the concept is controversial but done right, it could be a well-controlled option for patients who can’t afford commercially available product and could help keep commercial prices reasonable. Home grow is permitted under most state medical programs. We have the ability to learn from them and improve upon their practices. There will be challenges along the way but a homegrow program should be part of our discussion moving forward.”

Further, O’Scanlon’s bill would establish the Cannabis Regulatory Commission within the Department of Health, and removes certain union and labor peace agreements from ATC applicant requirements.

“We’re trying to expand as quickly as possible and as efficiently as possible, but we also need to be smart about regulations. Establishing the regulatory commission under the Department of Health makes sense since this will now be a solely medical program for the foreseeable future. We are also requiring that at least one member of the Commission have a background in medicine, and another to have a background in agriculture and or horticulture.”

“I’m looking to elevate the conversation here, not complicate the efficient passage of a clean and independent medical expansion bill. I hope that my colleagues and I can work together on the important policy changes necessary to help New Jersey patients–they’ve waited far too long already.

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