In taxing medical marijuana, N.J. follows lead of other states
At least one New Jersey lawmaker seemed surprised that the Christie administration plans to tax medical marijuana sales once they begin, but that seems to be the way it's done in most other states.
Colorado attorney Brian Vicente said sales tax from consumers and business taxes have been a boon in a down economy.
"Everyone knows that marijuana is already being sold in every state around our country," Vicente said. "A number of states have said, 'Enough is enough. If this is already taking place, let's move this behind the counter, restrict who it's being sold to and tax the heck out of it.'"
Vicente works with the group Sensible Colorado.
Bill Martin, who leads the drug policy program at Rice University's Baker Institute in Texas, says medical marijuana supporters think sales tax is an acceptable price to pay to get relief to patients.
"And it's proven to be one of the things that's made it more palatable to legislators, I think, because it can be a substantial source of income," Martin said.
Prescriptions drugs are tax exempt in New Jersey but medical marijuana won't come with a prescription -- only a doctor's recommendation.
An alternative treatment center in North Jersey is close to opening as the state's first dispensary of medical marijuana to patients who have been screened and registered.
The law establishing the medical marijuana program in New Jersey was signed almost three years ago.