New Jersey lawmakers moved forward with two bills related to medical marijuana in the Garden State.
The first bill (A377) would bring protections to cannabis companies who produce marijuana and marijuana-related products. The bill would protect these companies and their employees from retaliation by local and state governments.
“As we move forward addressing marijuana as a medicine and holding up industries, we have to put in place, first protections for our residents, but also protections for professional businesses that participate in the industry,” said Assemblyman Joe Danielsen, D-Somerset, who sponsored the bill.
While New Jersey has legalized medical marijuana use, it is still recognized as a "Schedule 1" drug by the federal government. This contradiction has caused many insurance companies and banks from working with cannabis-related industries.
The second bill (A1708) would allow recipients of workers' compensation and personal injury protection (PIP) access to medical marijuana in specific situations. One stipulation requires the patient to have tried an alternate treatment and have found it to be unsuccessful.
The bill does not cover Medicare or private insurance plans.
Recently, a New Jersey Appellate court ruled in favor of a plaintiff seeking compensation for use of medical marijuana.
Insurers are wary of the contradicting marijuana laws and the bills have not yet been taken up by the senate.
“I feel very strongly that we have gone in the right direction in New Jersey with medical marijuana,” said Assemblywoman Joann Downey, D-Ocean. “I think you’re pretty safe in terms of being able to go ahead and cover these things.”