Signed into law on July 2nd, 2019, the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act is designed to bolster the NJ marijuana dispensary industry within the state. Offering a wider range of outlets and products, such as CBD edibles for medical marijuana use, this new law was designed to enhance the original medical cannabis law in New Jersey which was enacted back in 2010.
This new law covers a wide range of subjects within the current system. The changes made by the new law are designed to enhance the medical marijuana program and eliminate some of the confusion along with unnecessary or confusing rules that were a part of the process. What follows are highlights of the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act.
No Employer Action
One of the biggest changes is that employers in New Jersey cannot take adverse action against an employee who is a cardholder for medical cannabis. Even if the company has a drug testing program for cannabis that is random for employees or used to screen new applicants, it cannot be used against them if they have a legitimate explanation for the positive result.
However, if there is no legitimate medical explanation, then employers can act against employees or deny job applications if cannabis is found in their system.
No Discrimination Under Certain Circumstances
In other words, those who qualify as patients or caregivers may not be discriminated against for the presence of cannabis in their drug testing under the following conditions;
- Renting or Leasing Property
- Enrolling in School, including Higher Institutions
- Issuing of Certifications, Permits, and Professional Licensing by the State
This means that patients who are registered for receiving medical cannabis or marijuana products along with caregivers who may be exposed to such products cannot be discriminated against in this regard. For those who use medical cannabis legally, this means that obtaining an education, property, or getting licensed is no longer an issue under the new law.
The number of cultivators in New Jersey is now being expanded from 12 to 28 to keep up with demand. This also opens up a larger market that helps to foster greater competition while still maintaining high quality standards.
To this end, the commission that oversees this area will also create a set number of manufacturing and retail licenses for businesses that are so recognized.
The new law also provides for specific provisions in terms of female and minority ownership. This is to address any imbalance that may occur in the establishment of such businesses that offer medical cannabis products or manufacture the substance.
Three Types of Permits
This is basically a name change to the different types of permits available. They are now as follows;
- Medical Cannabis Cultivators
- Medical Cannabis Manufacturers
- Medical Cannabis Dispensaries
Before, there was vertical integration of what was then called “alternative treatment centers”. This meant that they produced, processed, and were selling products that included medical cannabis. The idea behind this change is to make it easier to understand and apply to specific types of businesses in this field.
Expands Limits on Medical Marijuana Purchases
The limit has been expanded to three ounces per month which is up from two ounces for most patients. This allows a greater amount to be purchased at one time and helps those who use the product more often for their needs.
The one exception is terminally ill patients who have no set limit on how much they can purchase. It was deemed acceptable that those who suffer from terminal conditions, especially when it included chronic pain and discomfort, that a limit was not necessary.
Annual Doctor Recommendations
Previously, a doctor had to recommend medical cannabis four times a year for their patients. This has now been reduced to one time per year. The change was made to alleviate the time and trouble caused by having to renew such recommendations every three months. The annual recommendation is still required from a doctor to reduce potential abuse.
This is a change that is now common among prescription medications which are now delivered to the residence. This was designed to alleviate the burden of having to drive to a dispensary to receive their medicinal cannabis products.
Sunsets Sales Tax
The current 6.625% sales tax on medical marijuana products sold in NJ dispensaries will end in 2022. This means that after the tax is gone, people will pay less for their medical cannabis products.
Out of State Patients
The new law allows for those who live out of state to purchase medical marijuana products. This is designed to expand the number of people who purchase such products to bolster the overall market. Plus, it serves those who may be out of state to obtain medical marijuana if the state in which they are located does not have such facilities.
Update Qualifying Conditions
The new list of conditions which qualify for medical cannabis treatment includes the following;
- Chronic Pain, Seizure Disorder, and Epilepsy
- Intractable Skeletal Muscular Spasticity
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, and Cancer
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Multiple Sclerosis, and Muscular Dystrophy
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Crohn’s Disease
If a patient has less than one year to live, they qualify under terminal illness to use medical cannabis to treat conditions such as the following;
- Anxiety, Migraine, and Dysmenorrhea
- Tourette’s Syndrome, Chronic Pain, and Opioid Use Disorder
Plus, any conditions that is approved by the CDC for medical cannabis use can be allowed for terminally ill patients.
The term “debilitating medical condition” has now been changed to “qualifying medical condition”.
In addition, there are a number of smaller changes that have been made because of the act. This affects to a mild degree the NJ marijuana dispensary system. In addition to the product expansion of CBD edibles and the like. It should be noted that under federal law, marijuana is still considered illegal and New Jersey does not recognize the recreational use of cannabis or marijuana products.