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With the legalization of recreational cannabis use in New Jersey, medical users and recreational patrons became uncertain regarding which laws to follow. Because medical marijuana regulations were in place before the legislation that legalized recreational cannabis, some of the medical laws are now trumped by the new recreational statutes. Here, we will differentiate between the two.
New Jersey was the 14th state to legalize medical marijuana usage back in 2012.
A medical marijuana card allows approved patients to legally purchase cannabis at licensed Alternative Treatment Centers (ATCs) throughout the state. Medical marijuana cards can be acquired by patients that qualify for them by proving the existence of a qualifying medical condition and then applying through the state. Here are two of the specific laws that cover medical marijuana use in New Jersey and how they are affected by recreational statutes:
According to the New Jersey Department of Health, a medical marijuana patient may purchase and possess 3 ounces of cannabis in a 30-day period. However, if a patient is terminally ill or under hospice care, there is no limit. It is important to note that with the recent legalization of recreational use, anyone over 21 can possess up 6 ounces of cannabis.
Currently, the laws in place do not allow New Jersey medical cannabis patients to grow their own cannabis plants.
At the end of 2020, the Marijuana Legalization Amendment was approved by the voters of New Jersey, implementing the legalization of recreational cannabis use in New Jersey as of February 22, 2021. Here are the updated laws that come with this recent legalization:
The Marijuana Legalization Amendment allows any New Jersey resident over the age of 21 to possess up to 6 ounces of marijuana or 17 grams of hash.
Currently, according to the New Jersey Department of Health, recreational users cannot grow cannabis plants at home legally. If a recreational cannabis user is found growing plants, they may receive a fine or even jail time.
While recreational marijuana is now legal in New Jersey, there are many benefits of retaining a medical card in the state. Primarily, having a medical card gives you access to more heavily regulated cannabis from medical-only dispensaries, some of which may feature a higher potency at a lower cost. In addition, you may experience additional legal protections with a medical card and may be able to travel with your medication depending on other state laws.
If you are looking to apply for a medical card in the state of New Jersey, there are a few necessary steps.
First, you must be at least 18 years or older and have a qualifying health condition as approved by the New Jersey Medical Marijuana Program. The list of conditions approved by the program contains a wide range of diseases and health issues that have been found to benefit from the medicinal properties of cannabis. This list includes chronic pain, cancer, muscular dystrophy, anxiety, Tourette syndrome, and more. To see if you qualify for a medical marijuana card, visit the New Jersey Department of Health website to see the rest of the approved conditions.
If you have any one the qualified conditions, you must locate a physician that can approve you to apply for a medical marijuana card. The physician will verify that you do, in fact, have a qualifying health condition. Then, you must apply online via the state’s registry and submit a few basic identity documents, including a valid New Jersey ID. Once your application is complete, you will simply wait to be approved.
If and when you are approved, you must pay a fee of $100. Then, your medical marijuana registration will be valid for two years, at which point you must renew.
Yes. If a patient qualifies for medical marijuana in New Jersey, they are allowed to elect a caregiver to help them apply to the Medical Marijuana Program and administer the medication. To qualify to be a caregiver for a patient in New Jersey, you must:
Applying for a caregiver medical card in the state of New Jersey is the same as applying for a patient medical card. After qualifying the patient for the Medical Marijuana Program through an exam by an approved physician, you can apply through the state registry online.
Caregivers are allowed to purchase medical cannabis from Alternative Treatment Centers without the patient present. However, neither patients nor caregivers are allowed to redistribute the purchased cannabis in any way.
Whether you are new to cannabis use or are a bit more experienced, it is natural to find yourself with questions about the regulations regarding marijuana use now that new legislation is in place. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about cannabis use in New Jersey:
No. Recreational cannabis is now legal for any adult aged 21 or older. With a valid New Jersey ID, anyone 21 and over can legally purchase cannabis from an approved dispensary.
If approved by the Medical Marijuana Program in New Jersey, you must submit proper identification along with a payment of $100 to activate your registration. In certain circumstances, including participation in the Medicaid program or disability, the patient or caregiver may qualify to pay a reduced fee of $20.
After you have qualified for the Medical Marijuana Program and registered online, your official card will be mailed to the address on file. Overall, including medical examination, application, approval, and the 7-to-10-day mailing period for your card, the process takes an average of two to three weeks.
Cannabis is now legal across the state for both recreational and medical use. However, cannabis can only be bought legally from dispensaries and Alternative Care Facilities. Try searching online for “legal cannabis dispensaries in NJ” to find an approved retailer near you, or use the ATC finder.
Though recreational cannabis use is legal, that does not mean you can partake in marijuana anywhere. New Jersey has regulations in place that prohibit the use of marijuana in any public setting, as well as any vehicle or other form of transportation, whether public or private. In addition, if you do not own your property—i.e., if you rent or live on a college campus—check your lease or tenancy rules to see if the property owner has restricted smoking or vaping.
To qualify for a medical marijuana card in New Jersey, the patient or caregiver needs to be at least 18 years or older.
If your primary care physician is not registered with the MMP, you must find a registered physician to approve you. A list of MMP-registered healthcare physicians that can validate your eligibility can be found via the official state registry.
The United States has legislation in place known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA. HIPAA protects all healthcare and medical information provided by any individual and restricts its use to the facility in question. Therefore, your dispensary can only view the validity of your card, and employers or other authorities will not be able to access your medical information, either.
However, certain employers may request a health check, and may ask you for access to your medical history—which would include your medical card information. You do not need to disclose this information, but failure to do so may result in exclusion from consideration for the job. In general, though, a simple background check should not turn up medical marijuana cardholder information.
If an employee has a valid medical marijuana card, an employer cannot fire or punish them based solely on that fact. While employers do not have to make any special accommodations for employees that are also medical marijuana patients, they are not permitted to retaliate against employees that may have them. The laws in place regarding medical cannabis are like the laws pertaining to discrimination and retaliation against people with disabilities. A medical card or a positive THC test for a medical cannabis patient cannot be an employer’s reason for mistreatment or termination of employment. However, an employer can restrict you from using cannabis at work.
In New Jersey, you can have up to 6 ounces of marijuana or 17 grams of hash. However, since marijuana is meant to be consumed on private property, authorities recommend refraining from carrying your marijuana with you in most cases.
Current forms of marijuana that are permitted throughout New Jersey include:
Yes. Due to the growth of the cannabis industry across the country, state legislatures have enacted additional regulations to ensure that cannabis products are safe for consumption. In New Jersey, a group known as the Cannabis Regulatory Commission is responsible for conducting testing and implementing restrictions to keep these products safe for buyers.
With the implementation of Jake’s Law in New Jersey, more steps were taken to establish ‘safeguards’ to ensure that products are created in a safe way and test them for a variety of potential hazards. Currently, all cannabis products must be tested for these substances:
Keep in mind that some producers choose to test their products for more potential hazards than listed above to ensure safety and quality.
New Jersey guidelines state that marijuana should be kept at the patient’s own residence unless it is necessary to transport it. In most cases, unless you are driving to your home from a dispensary after purchase, it is wise to avoid keeping marijuana in your vehicle.
It is recommended that you do not drive while consuming cannabis or shortly thereafter. THC causes psychoactive effects and impairs your ability to drive. Therefore, you can be charged with DWI for presenting a danger to yourself and others. Under New Jersey law, a person that is consuming cannabis may not operate any form of transportation.
Only patients and qualified, approved caregivers in the state of New Jersey are allowed to make cannabis purchases at legal Alternative Treatment Centers with a medical marijuana card. Patients and caregivers are also not allowed to share or redistribute their cannabis in any way, including to other medical cardholders.