Updated on January 24, 2019.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
New Jersey has sought to establish much tougher regulations than most states in the western United States. Senate Bill 119, the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, easily passed the state House and Senate and was signed into law by Governor Jon Corzine in early 2010. But, one of the more unfortunate medical marijuana facts for New Jersey was that it took some time before the Act actually went into effect.
When Governor Chris Christie replaced Corzine, he placed the program on hold until finally allowing it to proceed in June of 2011. The governor wanted to confirm that the federal government would not prosecute any state employees involved in administering the medical marijuana program. He never got it but stated that he doubted this would happen and would thus allow the program to move ahead.
The act creates a mandatory medical marijuana registry that will issues New Jersey marijuana cards to patients suffering from seizure disorders like epilepsy, intractable muscle spasm diseases, severe chronic pain, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, cancer, Lou Gehrig’s disease, muscular dystrophy, Crohn’s disease and related severe syndromes, as well as any terminal illness with a prognosis of less than a year of life. Conditions must also be “resistant to conventional medical therapy” in order to qualify. Hearings have been held to increase the amount of qualifying conditions in New Jersey.
New Jersey Medical Marijuana Facts
- New Jersey patients are not allowed to grow their own marijuana, one of the New Jersey marijuana facts that distinguish it from most medical marijuana states.
- The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services administers the program and began issuing marijuana cards in 2012.
- The law mandates the establishment of 6 non-profit “alternative treatment centers” which will supply medical marijuana to New Jersey patients. Any subsequent centers authorized by the state may be either non-profit or for-profit. All these centers will also be prohibited from doing home deliveries of marijuana and from carrying any cannabis food items in their menu.
- New Jersey doctors will need to specify the amount of marijuana that a patient will require and this is the exact amount that will be dispensed by the alternative treatment center. There is, however, a maximum limit of 2 ounces of usable cannabis per 30-day period.
- As of January 2014, there are 109 physicians from 19 out of 21 New Jersey counties who had pre-registered with the state to participate in the medical marijuana program. In fact, only registered and DHSS-verified doctors will be allowed to recommend medical marijuana and determine qualification.
- The New Jersey medical marijuana program had only served approximately 8,000 patients as of December 2016. This is despite the fact that the law had been signed six years prior.
- The program is filled with extremely difficult requirements. For example, all patients participating in the program must have their conditions reassessed every 90 days. In addition, doctors must not only register to recommend medical cannabis, but must also take a course. Experts believe this is why, out of more than 27,000 physicians who practice in New Jersey, only about 380 are eligible to recommend weed to qualifying patients.
New Jersey Marijuana Possession and Cultivation Facts
- Penalties for possession are severe, with a possible 6-month sentence and $1000 fine for just one ounce. This being the 4th harshest punishment for such possession in the nation.
- The arrest rate for marijuana is, however, the 30th in the nation. In 2007 there were 23,252 marijuana arrests out of an estimated base of 659,000 cannabis users.
- It was estimated that marijuana arrests cost New Jersey taxpayers a total of $352 million in 2006 alone.
For more New Jersey marijuana facts or to keep apprised of developments across the country, check back with MarijuanaDoctors.com regularly.
Source: New Jersey Medical Marijuana Program