Home>Governor>Medical weed ‘pissing contest’ won’t help patients, Vitale says

State Sen. Joe Vitale.

Medical weed ‘pissing contest’ won’t help patients, Vitale says

Senator frustrated at administration’s lack of communication

By Nikita Biryukov, June 03 2019 5:02 pm

State Sen. Joe Vitale, the prime Senate sponsor of the medical marijuana expansion bill working its way through the legislature, wasn’t thrilled at Gov. Phil Murphy’s releasing an alternative plan to greatly increase the number of marijuana dispensaries and other related firms Monday.

“This pissing contest that’s going on doesn’t help patients, and while the administration might think that they have cornered the market on being the thought-leader on this issue, they haven’t,” Vitale said. “The folks in the department understand the issue. They’re doing a really good job, but there are leaders in the legislature who are as dedicated to this issue as are they.”

Murphy’s plan seeks to add 108 marijuana businesses to the state over the next several months.

Currently, there are only six operational dispensaries in the state, all of which grow, process and sell their own product.

Six others Dispensaries were selected last year but have since been tied up in court challenges that have halted the licensing process.

Vitale also said he was irked by the administration moving ahead on its own with the proposal without having talked the issue over with legislators.

“It’s not helpful that we’re not working together,” Vitale said. “Yes, the medical bill’s taken longer than it should have to get to the governor’s desk. That being said, there should have been a conversation with the sponsor of the bill, with others who are interested … There was never a conversation, never a heads-up.”

Lawmakers also don’t know what Murphy will do with their medical marijuana bill after they send it to his desk.

Senate President Steve Sweeney — who is currently feuding with Murphy over a task force investigation into tax incentives meted out by the Economic Development Authority, a conditional veto of a dark money bill that may be overridden, among other things — recently attacked Murphy for what he called sub-par communication with legislators.

Today’s showcase in competing policies isn’t likely to quell those spats.

“With respect to this particular issue and this place and time where we are now with the administration coming out with their own policy decisions and legislation moving forward, it’s just not helpful,” Vitale said. “It’s really Micky Mouse.”

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