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Wagner, Eustace & Gusciora Introduce Bill to Dedicate Taxes Collected from Medical Marijuana Sales for Medical Research

Christie administration announced last month sales tax will apply to medical marijuana even though other prescription, over-the-counter drugs in NJ are not taxed

(TRENTON) – In response to the Christie administration’s decision to tax medical marijuana prescriptions, Assembly Democrats Connie Wagner, Tim Eustace and Reed Gusciora have introduced legislation that would appropriate the taxes collected from the sale of medical marijuana for medical research grants to further study the very same conditions that medical marijuana helps alleviate.

“Patients suffering from debilitating illnesses like cancer, HIV and multiple sclerosis have waited long enough for the medical marijuana law to be implemented in New Jersey. Now they have to deal with news that unlike other prescription medicine in the state, medical marijuana will be subject to the state’s 7 percent sales tax,” said Wagner (D-Bergen). “I understand the need to boost revenue, but not at the expense of these patients. This bill ensures that these patients, not the state, benefit from the taxation of medical marijuana by using the money to fund research that may lead to a cure.”

The executive branch has announced that the “Sales and Use Tax Act” applies to the dispensation of medical marijuana, meaning there will be a seven percent sales tax imposed on its sales price. This bill establishes a statutory dedication that calls for those sales tax proceeds to be used for medical research aimed at alleviating the afflictions that necessitate the use of medical marijuana.

“Medical marijuana eases symptoms and makes these illnesses more bearable for some patients, but it is not a cure. The pain endured by many of these patients is soul-crushing,” said Eustace (D-Bergen). “Rather than use these taxes for completely unrelated causes, let’s consider the individuals who are battling these terrible diseases and invest that money into research that may one day discover a cure or at least better treatment options that can help them lead healthier, more comfortable lives.”

“New Jersey does not tax prescription medicine, but the current administration has decided medical marijuana will be the exception, placing a financial burden on patients already dealing with costly treatments for crippling diseases,” said Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “If patients have to pay a sales tax for medical marijuana prescriptions, then that money should go towards funding research.”

Under the bill (A-3650), sales tax proceeds collected on medical marijuana would be credited to the “Medical Marijuana for a Cure Fund,” a fund established by the bill for medical research grants on certain debilitating medical conditions. The bill calls upon the Legislature to annually appropriate the fund balance for a medical research grant program. The grant program would be administered by the New Jersey Department of Health and would be open to both public and private recipients.

The bill further directs the commissioner of health to weight medical research grants applications based on three factors: (1) the likelihood of success in pursuing a cure or treatment for a debilitating medical condition (2) the capacity to reduce the medical need for medical marijuana and (3) the potential for generating synergistic effects in the state’s medical research community.

It’s been almost three years since Gov. Corzine signed the medical marijuana law in New Jersey. According to a November media report, the state has approved 318 patients to participate in the medical marijuana program so far, with 138 more in the application and screening process.