STATE OF THE STATE: New Jersey

How Green Is the Garden State?

 If you live in New Jersey and you are in need of some medical marijuana, good news.  On January 11th, 2010 The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act was passed by the state legislature and on January 18th, 2010 it was signed into law by then governor John Corzine.

The Act approves medical marijuana for use in treating over a dozen different ailments and contains provisions for expanding the list.  Legalization of marijuana for recreational use is currently being hotly debated in the state legislature and the outcome is unsure at this time.

So that’s the good news; the bad news is that New Jersey medical marijuana prices are among the highest in the nation averaging about thirty-seven percent more per ounce than other states. The five dispensaries in the state charge an average of $489 per ounce, while the average price at dispensaries in Arizona, New Mexico, Vermont, Maine and Rhode Island is around $311 per ounce.

These prices are in part caused by the fact that New Jersey’s medical marijuana regulations are significantly more cumbersome than the regulations in many other states.

Here are the highlights:

  • There are fewer than four hundred physicians who have registered to recommend medical marijuana to patients.
  • New Jersey doctors need to specify in their “recommendation,” as writing prescriptions is not allowed by federal law, the amount of marijuana that a patient will require. However, there is a maximum limit of 2 ounces of usable cannabis per 30-day period. This is too restrictive.
  • These recommendations do not name a strain, only recommend a dosage.
  • New Jersey regulations do not specify specific strains that may be cultivated instead classifying cannabis plants as either “low”, “medium”, or “high” dose plants. The maximum concentration of THC, the psychoactive component in cannabis, is ten percent.
  • All patients participating in the program must have their conditions reassessed every 90 days.
  • Patients are required to have a medical marijuana recommendation (not a prescription) from a certified physician, a government-issued ID, and proof of New Jersey residency to register. New Jersey has about fifteen thousand registered patients.
  • Approved methods of use: smoke, vape, tincture, topical – and highly restricted use of edibles. This form is only allowed for children with approved conditions.
  • The Act mandates the establishment of six non-profit “alternative treatment centers”. That’s not many for a state with over nine million residents.
  • Additional centers may be for-profit but so far none have been created.
  • Home delivery is prohibited which means some patients will have a commute to obtain their cannabis.
  • Most states with legalized medical marijuana laws allow patients to grow a limited number of their own plants but not New Jersey.

The new administration in NJ has pledged to quickly reform the regulatory framework which was deliberately designed by the Christie administration to suppress the industry.  The legislature and the Department of Health have already begun to move toward the de-regulation, so the outlook for NJ patients is brightening up.  We will wait and see.

A marketing and publishing professional and the Director of Publicity at GB Sciences, Liz Bianco monitors media activity and the “State of the States” on cannabis in America.


 

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