New Jersey’s Medicinal Marijuana Laws

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New Jersey medical marijuana buds

Medical Marijuana Photo by Mark Eggrole

New Jersey is 1 of 20 states to legalize the use of medicinal marijuana. The particular laws regarding the use of medicinal marijuana varies from state to state. The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medicinal Marijuana Act that was passed by Governor Jon Corzine on January 18, 2010, legally allows patients who have been diagnosed with the following diseases to ingest up to 2 ounces of marijuana per month:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • Seizure and/or spasticity disorders (including epilepsy)
  • Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Severe muscle spasms
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (including Crohn’s disease)
  • Any terminal illness if a doctor has determined the patient will die within a year
  • Any medical condition that has been approved by the New Jersey Health Department

The law also states that there is no age limit for patients, but that a parent or guardian must signoff for minors. The Department of Health reserves the right to approve all unspecified terms and conditions.

In September of 2013, the legislation was amended to provide for the production and sale of cannabis-infused edibles and for multiple strains of marijuana per Senate Bill 2842.

How does Someone Become a Patient?

If you are a New Jersey resident and have been recommended by a New Jersey physician with whom you have a standing relationship, you should qualify as a patient. Once you have been issued an authorized prescription, the Department of Health will issue you an identification card with your picture, name, address, date-of-birth, and your primary caregiver- or in other words, the name of the physician that is writing the prescription for your medicinal marijuana. The ID card is proof that you are legally allowed to be in possession of marijuana for medicinal purposes and therefore cannot be prosecuted.

Who can Prescribe Marijuana for Medicinal Purposes?

A “primary caregiver” who has undergone a background check, is licensed to practice medicine and surgery, and who has a bona fide relationship with the patient can prescribe medicinal marijuana to a patient. The patient must be a resident of New Jersey for the physician to recommend a patient to them. Additionally, the primary caregiver must be able to retrieve the medicinal marijuana for the patient.

The caregiver is ineligible to prescribe medicinal marijuana if he or she has ever been convicted of a felony drug offense, or if the caregiver is already treating a qualifying patient. Caregivers may only prescribe medicinal marijuana to one patient at a time, must obtain a registry identification card from the Department of Health and Human Services, and must pay a $200.00 application fee.

Who can Sell Medicinal Marijuana?

New Jersey’s medicinal marijuana law clearly states that authorized patients cannot cultivate their own cannabis. Medicinal marijuana can only be grown at alternative treatment centers-which are centers that serve the sole purpose of producing and distributing medicinal marijuana- and costs between $20 and $200 to cover the cost of production.

Places that Patients are Prohibited from Smoking

While patients who smoke medicinal marijuana are not subject to being sequestered in their homes while ‘taking their medication,’ they are restricted from smoking in many public areas. As a general rule of thumb, it is illegal to smoke medicinal marijuana in any place that it is otherwise illegal to smoke cigarettes such as on forms of public transportation, in a private vehicle while in operation, on school grounds, correctional facilities, public parks or beaches, or recreational centers. If you receive a drug charge in New Jersey, you may be able to get the drug charge expunged from your record.

Driving Under the Influence of Medicinal Marijuana

New Jersey’s Medicinal Marijuana Act articulates that it is illegal to smoke marijuana while operating a vehicle. It is also vital to remember that it is illegal to drive under the influence-which is not particular to alcohol, but can also pertain to prescriptive narcotics, including medicinal marijuana.

If a patient is pulled over for a moving violation* and law enforcement finds traces of a controlled substance in the patient’s system, presenting the prescription or ID card will not prevent the patient from receiving a DUI. The incident may also result in a criminal record, confiscation of the patient’s driver’s license, having to attend a drug treatment program (such as narcotics anonymous), and enduring the social stigma of having a criminal record for a drug conviction. If you have been charged with a DUI involving marijuana you can take a free test to see if you are eligible to have that record cleared from your background.

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*A citation for a moving violation can be given to a person operating a vehicle in motion, including a car, motorcycle, bicycle, scooter, boat, or plane.