SOMERSET, NJ - Assemblyman Joe Danielsen (D), who represents the 17th District in New Jersey State Assembly, recently unveiled his sponsorship of Assembly No. 10, a bill revising the requirements to authorize and access medical marijuana.
This announcement comes in response to Governor Phil Murphy’s plans to open six more dispensaries claimed to help better serve New Jersey’s expanding medical marijuana demand.
Since the start of his term in January, the program has enrolled over 25,000 patients and caregivers, now covering medical conditions such as anxiety, PTSD, Tourette’s syndrome, terminal cancer and more.
Danielsen, a lifelong Franklin Township resident, chairman of the Assembly Oversight, Reform, and Federal Relations Committee, has been leading discussions on New Jersey’s medical marijuana program since March of this year. Now arguing that Governor Phil Murphy’s plan is solely tending to “rich white men”, Danielsen claims his Bill refocuses the program to those who use it.
“My priority starts off with patients, medicine, solution, social justice component, and profit,” Danielsen told TAPinto. “Those are my priorities.”
Here's a breakdown of the key points of Assembly No. 10:
To improve accessibility to medical marijuana dispensaries, Danielsen’s Bill proposes an increase in the number of dispensary permits awarded throughout the state. Adding to the six alternative treatment center permits currently in existence, this document proposes the addition of at least 6 additional medical marijuana cultivator permits, 15 additional medical marijuana processor permits, and 40 additional medical marijuana dispensary permits, which are to be evenly distributed throughout the state.
These numbers are to be adjusted proportionately as the program continues to expand, with preference going to districts that are deemed underserved.
To further improve the efficiency of the system and to help patients who are waiting for their registration receive their medical marijuana prescriptions quickly, Danielsen’s Bill calls for Temporary Registration for patients, which would allow patients to receive a two-week prescription supply from their provider as they await their registry card. Additionally, the Bill extends dispensary access to qualifying Out-Of-State patients and caregivers.
Moving Away From Big Business
Addressing the concern of monopolized markets, the Bill introduces restrictions on the number of permits awarded to individual cultivators, processors, and dispensaries and the number of alternative treatment center facilities owned by one individual. Through this bill, it is also stated that “no permit holder shall utilize more than 45,000 total square feet for cultivation purposes”.
Price lists for medical marijuana, through this bill, are also standardized and monitored by the Department of Health to ensure fair markets, and to penalize noncompliance. The prices are solidified on a monthly basis, and cannot be changed without approval. Therefore, a cultivator and processor would have one standard price that all dispensaries would purchase from.
Promoting Local Business and Supporting Social Justice
While Danielsen’s Bill is written primarily from a business perspective, the bill explains that the document is also concerned with shifting “the scales of social justice in the right direction.”
To give local business and minority groups a chance to benefit from the program, Micro-permits will be offered under set conditions. To be awarded this special permit, 100% of the facility’s ownership should be by New Jersey residents of two years or more, with at least 51 percent ownership held by women, minorities or veterans, and at least 51% of the employee base made up of local residents. If these conditions are met, permit holders will be allowed to utilize no more than 10,000 square feet for cultivation, to process no more than 1,200 pounds of marijuana per month, and to serve no more than 1,200 patients per month.
Further, the document works to developing provisions to keep cardholders from being arrested.
In addition to providing for areas where medical marijuana can safely be consumed, the Bill states that possession of or application for a medical registration card “does not constitute a probable cause to search the person or the property” of that individual. Additionally, the document states that being in the vicinity of an individual using medical marijuana does not subject that individual to arrest or prosecution of any kind.
Provisions are included in the Bill to protect discrimination of any kind against cardholders, particularly as it pertains to employment or educational opportunities, property leasing or ownership, child custody, or any statewide licensing processes.
But despite his efforts towards designing a bill with social justice considerations, Danielsen recognizes that this bill alone will not solve all racial disparity and unequal incarceration rates.
“I think African Americans will continue to be arrested, at the current rates they are today. I am concerned as it relates to driving. I think it would be more difficult for African Americans to defend themselves against driving with marijuana charge,” Danielsen told TAPinto. “Tell me the system isn't designed with racial disparity. It's designed with racially disproportionate opportunity. It's designed with racial implications.”
Furthering Medical Marijuana Research
Through this bill, Danielsen hopes to “incorporate universities’ cancer institutes, medical care facilities, pharmacies, research and development teams, associations of oncology and pharmacology laboratories” to strengthen and inform the local medical marijuana industry.
Special micro-permit considerations will be made for local higher education institutions looking to develop and expand curriculums involving the medical marijuana industry, as well as partnering academic research communities.
If you would like to discuss this Bill, Assemblyman Danielsen invites you to contact his office.