New Jersey might not have been able to legalize marijuana as promised this year, however, the state took some key steps to increase the accessibility of medical marijuana to thousands of residents. Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill on July 2 expanding the medical marijuana program of the state into law.
The bill opens up many possibilities. It is expected to make it possible for numerous medical marijuana providers to open in the state, increase the amount of cannabis (e.g. cannabis edibles) that patients can buy, as well as lower the number of times patients need to visit a doctor to qualify. The bill is particularly a great news for any NJ marijuana dispensary as dispensaries will become more functional and capable of satisfying the needs of New Jersey’s cannabis consumers.
The Family Behind NJ Medical Marijuana Expansion
Jake Honig, a 7-year old boy who battled with cancer and passed away in 2018, was the namesake of the act that is signed by Gov. Murphy to make certain changes in the marijuana program. The major catalyst in getting the medical marijuana expansion through the legislature was the tale of the relief Honig found from marijuana during his cancer treatment.
Parents of Jake, Janet and Michael Honig, joined the governor, press, as well as other advocates at one of the favorite restaurants of Jake to usher in the new era of medical marijuana in NJ since the bill took effect instantly.
Murphy said in the recent years that many individuals had come to a new understanding on how cannabis can help patients. Thanks to this knowledge, both laws and minds have been changed. The bill crucial to the success of NJ marijuana dispensary as well as other aspects of the medical cannabis and cannabis edibles industry comes after the failure of the months-long effort to legalize recreational marijuana in New Jersey.
The measure makes several big changes. These include the following:
• It increases the limit that can be dispensed from 2-3 ounces for 18 months once the law becomes effective.
• To regulate the cannabis edibles and cannabis in general, the measure sets up a five-member commission, hence taking oversight of the program from the Health Department.
• The law also expands the number of cultivators to 28. At the moment, the state is working towards increasing the number of alternative treatment centers from 6 to 12.
• The law sets up three new categories of licenses as well, including dispensaries, manufacturers, and cultivators. At the moment, there is only one permit allowing alternative treatment centers that covers these categories.
• It permits advanced practice nurses and physician assistants to authorize medical marijuana. Previously, only doctors were authorized to prescribe it.
• The law lowers the threshold from debilitating illnesses to ‘qualifying’ illnesses. As a result, it will become easier for the health care officials to prescribe the drug. The illnesses include cancer, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder, intractable skeletal muscular spasticity, seizure disorder, as well as opioid-use disorder and chronic pain. Other illnesses are also expected to be added.
• It boosts the supply of a medical cannabis patient from 90 days to one year. Furthermore, it also allows for home delivery to patients.
The new rules are designed to make the program more functional for NJ marijuana dispensary, health care officials, as well as help meet the needs of patients.
What Do These Changes Mean for the Cannabis Industry?
Since there are a number of significant changes introduced, this will affect the medical cannabis program of NJ with far-reaching consequences. These changes set a flurry of activity in motion by making the program accessible to many more patients.
Existing dispensaries in New Jersey will gear up for the exploration of new patients. And since the diagnoses of these patients are covered by the expanded program, they will besiege their doctors for prescriptions. Dispensaries will surely increase their sales and cultivation functions, hiring more employees to handle the additional business.
Suppliers in the industry will also benefit from the changes. They can expect new orders to handle the increased demand of medical cannabis. And let’s not forget the entrepreneurs who couldn’t get medical cannabis licenses until now due to strict limitations under the old program. They will surely have a better luck now.
Gov. Murphy indicated that more changes to the NJ medical cannabis program are still ahead and all of this is independent of the recreational cannabis program that is working its way through the assembly. So, fasten your seatbelts as it’s going to be a wild ride!