New Jersey wasn’t able to pass cannabis legislation this year to allow adult use even though it appeared imminent. But the Garden State expanded its medical marijuana program on Tuesday which will open the door for patients and cultivators to use and grow the drug.
Gov. Phil Murphy signed the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act, named after a seven-year-old who died from brain cancer. His parents fought to make cannabis more accessible for patients battling disease and needing pain relief.
Several key aspects of the bill will help patients and the industry:
- Currently, the dispensing limit is set to two ounces and that will rise to three, at least for the first 18 months. After that, it will be set by a newly formed Cannabis Regulatory Commission.
- Patients will be able to have one year’s worth of cannabis supply rather than just 90 days.
- Home delivery will now be available to patients.
- Physicians can now prescribe marijuana to treat more conditions including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), cancer, chronic pain and opioid-use disorder.
- Advanced practice nurses and physician assistants will be able to provide patients with medical marijuana on top of doctor’s prescriptions.
- The number of cannabis cultivators will increase from six to 28.
- By 2022, the taxes charged on medical marijuana will be eliminated.
- Out of state patients will be able to buy medical marijuana in New Jersey for up to six months.
There’s even more to the list of changes, which illustrates how much New Jersey reformed its laws. Although it fell short of legalizing recreational marijuana, the new law will help add to the 49,000 patients able to access the program today.
Not only did prescribing cannabis get easier, but the list of conditions now covers opioid addiction and PTSD, which many states do not cover. And with New Jersey allowing out-of-state patients to purchase cannabis, it could soon see an increase of traffic from neighboring states with stricter cannabis laws.
New Jersey still could pass legislation to include recreational use, which would open the floodgates of users and companies looking to cash in.
Across the Hudson River, New York was also close to legalizing the plant for adult use, but failed in a down-to-the wire effort last month and settled for cannabis decriminalization.
Advocates will be watching closely when legislation sessions reopen next year in New York and in other states while lawmakers will continue to feel pressure to reform laws and generate more tax dollars. Illinois, Massachusetts and Michigan are some of the most recent states to pass legislation, with more expected in 2020.