“Up in Smoke” was the name of a classic “stoner” movie starring Cheech and Chong. It also could describe New Jersey’s current medical marijuana program, which until yesterday was cumbersome, difficult to navigate, and had numerous limitations on the medical use and dispensing of marijuana.
On July 2, 2019, Governor Murphy signed the “Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act”, a bill named for a pediatric cancer patient who suffered for years before he recently passed away. The only relief from the pain and nausea caused by the disease and his treatment was cannabis oil. Unfortunately, because of the strict limits on the amount of medical marijuana his parents could buy, they would run out halfway through the month and Jake would suffer until they could buy more for the following month.
The new law expands the number of dispensaries, growers, and distributors. It will increase the amount of medical marijuana a patient can buy from 2 to 3 ounces a month, it will phase out the state sales tax, reduce the number of required annual doctor’s visits to once annually from four times per year, allow nursing homes and hospice centers to purchase bulk amounts for their patients, and allow home delivery, among other changes. The law also creates a new Cannabis Commission that will oversee the program, implement administrative rules, and govern the implementation and expansion of the medical marijuana program.
New Jersey was one of the first states to allow the use of medical marijuana, but the program never really had the impact it was supposed to. The recent changes to the law are designed to increase access and allow those who have a legitimate need to enjoy the benefits of the medical marijuana program without the headaches. With luck, the future of New Jersey’s medical marijuana program will be better described as the “Pineapple Express.”
If you or someone you know has questions about the current laws surrounding the use of medical marijuana, call our attorneys at SGKLegal, (732) 613-8000.
Written by Larry Kroll, Attorney At Law with SGKLegal, July 2, 2019