Medical Vs. Recreational Regulations
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.
Medical Cannabis Laws in New Jersey
New Jersey was the 14th state to legalize medical marijuana usage 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 to 6 ounces of cannabis.
Currently, the laws in place do not allow New Jersey medical cannabis patients to grow their own cannabis plants.
Recreational Cannabis Laws in New Jersey
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.
For New Patients Who Want a Medical Card
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.
How Do You Get a Medical Card in New Jersey?
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 of the qualifying conditions, you must first locate a physician that can determine you are eligible 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 to remain a legal medical marijuana patient.
Can I Apply for a Caregiver Medical Card?
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:
Be at least 18 years or older
Be a New Jersey resident
Agree to aid the certified patient
Be elected by the patient in question
Agree to submit information for a background and identity check
Not be the patient’s physician
How to Apply for a Patient or Caregiver Medical Card
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.