The cannabis laws in New Jersey have been in favour of the patients. This state became the 14th state to legalize the medical use of marijuana in 2010.
Still, while the cannabis laws in New Jersey have been supporting the qualifying patients, marijuana for recreational use still remains illegal. The punishments for recreational use are quite severe, and even the procedures for becoming a medical marijuana user are very difficult.
We will go through the past and current cannabis laws in New Jersey, as well as all the requirements, to become a medical marijuana patient in this state.
History of Cannabis Laws in New Jersey
On 11th January 2010, the SB 119 bill or the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act was passed. It was signed a week later o 18th January 2010 by Governor Jon Corzine. However, there was a change in office just after the signing of the bill and Governor Chris Christie took over, which caused delays in implementing the newly agreed cannabis laws in New Hampshire.
The medical marijuana program was not reopened until 9th August 2012. Since then, qualifying patients are allowed to apply to become medical marijuana patients. The first medical marijuana dispensary of Alternative Treatment center opened in 2nd December 2012.
The SB 2842 bill also includes minors with qualifying conditions by allowing them to consume medical marijuana in the form of edibles. This bill was passed on 19th September 2013.
Where Can You Purchase Medical Marijuana in New Hampshire?
Patients who are older than 18 are allowed to purchase medical marijuana from state-licensed dispensaries. They are required to have a written physician’s recommendation.
The New Jersey Department of Health is responsible for issuing licences to dispensaries. Medical marijuana is a subject to tax and the patients are required to pay 7% sales tax on all purchases.
Where Can You Consume Medical Marijuana in New Jersey?
According to the cannabis laws in New Jersey, al qualifying patients need to consume medical cannabis on their private properties. Public consumption of marijuana is not allowed, and this is especially true when it comes to smoking or vaping cannabis in public. Marijuana smoking and vaping falls under the same regulatory process as cigarettes and tobacco – the Smoke-Free Air.
Smoking in a private vehicle is allowed if the vehicle is parked at a private property. Driving under the influence of marijuana is forbidden both if you are the driver or the passenger. Smoking marijuana in a public park, beach, school ground, school buses or federal properties is strictly forbidden
Possession Limits in New Hampshire
Interestingly enough, medical marijuana edibles are only available to patients who are younger than 18. For adult qualifying patients, the current limits are set at 2 ounces or around 55 grams of usable marijuana products for every 30 days. The cannabis laws in New Jersey require for medical marijuana to be packed in small packages of one-eighth of an ounce or around 3.5 grams or a quarter of an ounce or around 7 grams.
At the moment, qualifying patients and their caregivers are not allowed to grow their own medical marijuana.
How To Register as a Medical Marijuana Patient in New Jersey?
Patients who have been diagnosed with one of the qualifying conditions in the state of New Jersey can apply to become medical marijuana patients if they are over the age of 18. For minor patients, the procedure of registering needs to be done by the parents or legal guardians.
Qualifying patients need to obtain a written statement from a qualifying physician about the use of marijuana. Physicians who are registered for the Medical Marijuana Program would need to have at least four visits from the patients before they are able to issue a written certification. If the regular physician of the patient is registered with the Medical Marijuana Program, the patients need to have at least one year of relationship with the medical professional.
After the registered Medical Marijuana program physician assessed and approved medical marijuana as a part of the patient’s treatment, the qualifying patient will be able to submit their application to New Jersey’s Department of Health. The application can be handed in in person or it can be done online through the Medical Marijuana Program website.
As a part of the application, the qualifying patient needs to include a photo ID issued by the state of New Jersey, proof of residency in the state, the certification given from the physician and the reference number for their case. An application fee of $100 applies, yet seniors, veterans and people receiving government assistance can have their fees reduced to $20.
The New Jersey Department of Health will issue a medical marijuana identification card to the patient if their application is successful. According to the cannabis laws in New Jersey, patients can appoint a caregiver, however, the registration process is the same as for the patient. They would need to meet with the licensed Medical Marijuana Program physician and receive the same case reference number and fill in the application.
The cannabis laws in New Jersey allow for the medical marijuana identity cards to be valid up to two years.
The state of New Jersey recognizes the following conditions as qualifying:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Chronic pain related to musculoskeletal disorders
- Chronic pain of visceral origin
- Multiple sclerosis
- Opioid Use Disorder as an adjunct to Medication Assisted Therapy
- Terminal cancer
- Muscular dystrophy
- Inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease
- Terminal illness, if the physician has determined a prognosis of less than 12 months of life
- Tourette’s Syndrome
- Seizure disorder, including epilepsy
- Intractable skeletal muscular spasticity
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Positive status for human immunodeficiency virus
- Acquired immune deficiency syndrome
How To Register as A Caregiver in New Jersey?
The registration process for caregivers is identical as for patients. If the patient appoints a caregiver, they would need to have at least four visits to a Medical Marijuana program recognized physician who will release them with a written certificate.
During their application process, caregivers need to provide a photo ID issued in the state of New Jersey, proof of residency and to pay the registration fee. the fee is the same as for patients – $100 but reductions are available for senior citizens, veterans and people receiving help from the government.
According to the cannabis laws in New Jersey, patients from outside of the state are not allowed to purchase medical marijuana even if the yare holder of a medical marijuana identification card.
Cannabis Lab Testing in New Jersey
The New Jersey Department of Health is in charge of regulating the testing process in order to ensure that all of the cannabis products placed on the market are fit to be used.
The cannabis laws in New Jersey require samples for the soil to be collected together with a sample from the batch. Dispensaries need to label each sample with their permit number and provide a description of the product and the quality they claim to hold. The samples then need to be submitted and the Department of Health will be responsible for verifying the sample and deciding if it could be placed on the market to be sold.
The cannabis laws in New Jersey for illegal marijuana possession for recreational use are not tolerant at all. They can be very harsh even for the smallest amount of marijuana in the possession and they can definitely not be considered light or tolerant.
If a person is caught in possession of fewer than 50 grams, the deed is classified as disorderly conduct and will result in a fine of up to $1000 and up to 6 months in prison. Possession over 50 grams can be punished by 18 months in jail and a fine of $25.000. If a person in question is caught in possession within 1000 feet of school grounds, on top of the initial sentence they will also need to do 100 hours of community service and pay additional fines.
The punishment for sale and distribution depend on the amount, yet one can argue that the cannabis laws in New Jersey are set a bit too high. For the sale and distribution of less than an ounce of cannabis, the person can be sentenced to up to 18 months in prison and a fine of $25.000. The sale and distribution of cannabis in an amount over 1 ounce but less than 5 pounds still carries the same fine – $25.000 but jail time increases to a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 5 years.
The sale and distribution of over 5 pounds but under 25 pounds is considered a class 2 felony and consequences can be up to $150.000 in fines and between 5 and 10 years in prison. The sale and distribution of over 25 pounds are considered a class 1 felony and it is punishable by a fine of $300.000 and a jail sentence between 10 and 20 years.
If a person is caught selling cannabis within 1000 feet from school grounds, it will result in a fine of $150.000 and between 3 and 5 years of imprisonment, usually on top of the initial charge.
Violation of the cannabis laws in New Jersey and the punishment they impose depend mainly on the amount, but also other factors are considered such as previous criminal history. For first time offenders who were caught in possession of less than an ounce of cannabis, the punishment can be decreased by half or two-thirds.
There is a special section of the law that refers to selling cannabis to children or pregnant women which states that the punishments will be doubled in one such scenario.
The cannabis laws in New Jersey in regards to illegal cultivation are quite high. If a person is caught cultivating between 1 ounce and 5 pounds of cannabis or less than 10 plants, they will face jail time between 3 and 5 years and a fine of $25.000. For cultivation between 10 and 50 plants, the law imposes between 5 and 10 years in jail and fines of up to $150.000. The punishment increases for cultivating over 50 plants and it goes up to $350.000 in fines and between 10 and 20 years in prison. This is considered a class 1 felony.
Paraphernalia is also considered a disorderly person offence and it is punishable by up to 6 months in prison and $1000 in fines. Advertising paraphernalia is considered a serious crime and it can mean 18 months in prison and fines of up to $10.000.
If a person is caught in possession but refuses to hand the cannabis over to the police, this is considered a misdemeanour and additional charges might be added to the case. The same goes if the person is caught driving under the influence of marijuana. This also applies to medical marijuana users.
The cannabis laws in New Jersey allow for the person to have a reduced or suspended sentence and attend diversion programs if it’s the person’s first offence.
The cannabis laws in New Jersey are far from perfect since there are some serious consequences even for possession of very small amounts. However, there might be hopes that this will soon change and that marijuana would be decriminalized. We will have to wait and see.