Over-the-counter and prescription drugs are not subject to sales tax in New Jersey, unless that drug happens to be medical marijuana. The decision was made last month by the Christie Administration, and now some Democrats in the legislature are trying to make a change.

Greenleaf Compassion Center opened this month as New Jersey's first operating dispensary of medical marijuana. (Townsquare Media)

The Democratic proposal wouldn't scrap the added tax; it would revamp how collections are utilized. Under the measure introduced by Assembly Democrats Connie Wagner, Tim Eustace and Reed Gusciora, sales tax proceeds from medical marijuana would be used for research that targets the very illnesses the drug is meant to alleviate.

"Patients suffering from debilitating illnesses like cancer, HIV and multiple sclerosis have waited long enough for the medical marijuana law to be implemented in New Jersey," explained Wagner. "I understand the need to boost revenue, but not at the expense of these patients."

Wagner said the measure ensures that patients, not the state, benefit from the taxation of medical marijuana.

The bill would establish the "Medical Marijuana for a Cure Fund," which would host the tax collections devoted to medical research grants. The New Jersey Department of Health would have the power to decided who receives the grants; both public and private entities would be eligible.

"If I'm going to ask you for additional money, I need to put it towards a cure," said Wagner.

She said she's offended that New Jersey would use medical marijuana tax collections to pad the general fund.

The state's first medical marijuana dispensary opened earlier this month in Montclair, with five additional distribution centers in the works. About a third of the state's registered patients have received the drug so far.