New medical marijuana bill would open the door for more NJ patients –

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New legislation designed to “significantly increase” access to New Jersey’s medical marijuana program would allow more dispensaries and cultivation centers to open and permit more medical professionals to refer their patients, NJ Advance Media has learned.

The bill was introduced Tuesday by Sens. Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex, Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, and Declan O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth, in response to Gov. Phil Murphy’s call to reform New Jersey’s medical marijuana program. 

Vitale told NJ Advance Media the bill would allow the Department of Health to expand the medical marijuana program by issuing licenses to new dispensary operators to meet the increased patient demand.

 “It is our belief that this legislation will significantly increase access for patients, caregivers and providers, and additional forms of medical marijuana that may better suit a patient’s need,” Vitale said.

“Among other elements, it will also establish workable permitting guidelines based on patient need and further ensuring new businesses will be able to enter the marketplace and remain viable. Increasing patient access and care is the cornerstone of our proposed new law.” 

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New Jersey currently has just five open dispensaries, with a sixth — Harmony Foundation in Secaucus — set to open in the coming weeks pending final approval from the health department. There are about 20,200 registered patients.

The bill would take several other big steps: 

Raise the monthly allowed amount of medical marijuana from 2 ounces to 2.5 ounces in 2019 and three ounces in 2020; Remove the limit on how much medical pot terminally ill patients and hospice patients can receive; Remove the ban on edible medical pot to minors;

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