Lawmakers advance bill expanding medical marijuana program in NJ

TRENTON, N.J.  — New Jersey lawmakers advanced legislation Thursday that would permit doctors to authorize medical marijuana for any diagnosed condition.

Current law permits medical marijuana to be prescribed only for certain debilitating conditions.

The Assembly health committee approved the measure with Democrats supporting it and Republicans opposed. Three Democratic members didn’t vote and two Republicans abstained.

“There is no benefit in denying a patient relief,” Democratic Assemblyman Herb Conaway, who chairs the committee, said in a statement. “Medical marijuana has the potential to treat many medical conditions. If a doctor believes medical marijuana can be an effective treatment, then they should be able to prescribe it to their patients.”

Republican Assemblyman Brian Rumpf said before the vote that he had questions about whether such an expansion was supported by science. Rumpf voted against the measure.

The legislation increases the maximum amount of marijuana that can be dispensed in 30-day period from two ounces to four.

The measure also proposes a number of other changes to the state’s medical marijuana law, including authorizing a person to serve as a primary caregiver for up to two patients. That’s up from the current limitation of no more than one patient.

New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy is pushing for legalizing recreational marijuana.