Official Expansion of Medical Cannabis in New Jersey Announced

May 15, 2019

While efforts to legalize cannabis for recreational purposes have slowed in New Jersey, the New Jersey Department of Health has just announced rule changes that promise to expand the State’s existing medical marijuana program. Per a Department of Health Press Release dated May 13, 2019, the following changes have been made either by codification of previous orders or new rule-making:

• Adding seniors and military veterans to those eligible for the reduced registration fee of $20

• Reducing the registration fee for qualifying patients and their caregivers from $200 to $100

• Authorizing qualifying patients to designate up to two primary caregivers instead of just one

• Reflecting the addition of seven “debilitating medical conditions” including PTSD, by statutory enactment; and six new conditions (anxiety, chronic pain of visceral origin, chronic pain related to musculoskeletal disorders, migraines, Tourette syndrome, and Opioid Use Disorder), by the State Health Commissioner’s March 22, 2018, petition decision, and January 23, 2019 revision

• Allowing physicians to opt out of inclusion on a public list of participating physicians

• Elevating the Medicinal Marijuana Program to division status within the Department of Health

• Expands the forms of medical marijuana available in New Jersey to include oil-based formulations, like vape cartridges

• Creating a separate permitting system for cultivation, manufacturing and dispensing marijuana for medical purposes, which would increase the available supply of, and patient access to, usable marijuana and allow for specialization in the market

• Streamlining the process to petition for the addition of “debilitating medical conditions” by removing the requirement that petitions first be referred to the Medicinal Marijuana Review Panel

• Emphasizing the advisory role of the Medicinal Marijuana Review Panel to include the provision of guidance and recommendations to the State Health Commissioner regarding the medical use of marijuana

• Removing the requirement of psychiatric evaluation as a condition of physician certification of minors as qualifying patients

It is anticipated that these changes will significantly enhance the current medical cannabis program not only in the number of patients who will now be eligible to be prescribed medical cannabis but in the growing industry the provides the product and treatment the expanded patient base will require. If you have any questions about New Jersey’s medical cannabis program please feel free to call Post Polak at (973) 228-9900 and ask to speak to one of the attorneys engaged in our cannabis practice group.