New Jersey first legalized medical cannabis in 2010. The state has approved medicinal cannabis for ALS, Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, terminal cancer and terminal illnesses with a prognosis of less than 12 months of life, epilepsy, glaucoma, intractable spasticity and seizures if patient is resistant/intolerant to conventional treatment, HIV/AIDS and non-terminal cancer if cachexia/wasting syndrome, chronic pain, severe nausea or vomiting or severe pain.
The state’s Medicinal Marijuana Review Panel proposed adding anxiety, migraine, Tourette’s syndrome, chronic pain related to musculoskeletal disorders, and chronic pain related to internal organs. The state’s health commissioner has up to 180 days to decide whether to approve the extra conditions.
Registered patients are legally allowed to purchase and possess up to 2 ounces every 30 days, though a physician decides exactly how much each patient receives up to that maximum.
The New Jersey’s program developed an electronic patient and caregiver registration and payment process (the registry). The registry is an encrypted, public web application that provides end-to-end security of personal, medical and financial information of the applicant. This registry opened on August 9, 2012. Since the registry opened, 12,514 qualifying patients and 1,030 caregivers have been registered with the program. From January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2016, 5,060 qualifying patients and 315 caregivers registered with the program. The MMP has issued identification cards to 11,617 qualifying applicants completing the registration process. Additionally, all authorized debilitating illnesses are represented in the present patient population
Patients are served by 6 state-approved dispensaries from six dispensaries that were allowed initially under state law – Harmony Foundation (July, 2017), Greenleaf Compassion Center of Montclair, Compassionate Care Foundation of Egg Harbor, Garden State Dispensary of Woodbridge, Breakwater Alternative Treatment Center of Cranbury and Compassionate Sciences of Bellmawr.
The health department reviews the program every two years to determine whether more should be approved. Dispensaries undergo an intensive application and registration process and are subject to numerous regulations, including those covering record-keeping, cultivation limits, security and hours of operation. Dispensaries must grow their own cannabis – separate stand-alone wholesale cultivation operations are not allowed. There is the requirement that all products contain no more than 10% THC is considered overly restrictive and onerous.
Medical marijuana sales in New Jersey via dispensaries rose roughly 70% in 2015 and 2016 to hit an estimated $20 million in 2017 (up from a revised estimate of $12 million-$16 million in 2016).
New Jersey has great chances to legalize recreational cannabis after a pro-cannabis candidate won the state’s gubernatorial race. New Jersey could become the biggest recreational market on the East Coast and easily generate hundreds of millions of dollars in retail cannabis sales annually.
The legislature already has a rec legalization bill teed up. The bill outlines different types of business licenses:
- Producer (i.e. infused products maker)
- Testing lab
New Frontier Data, a company that analyzes the cannabis industry predicts sales wouldn’t top $1 billion until 2023 and could fall short of reaching $1.2 billion by 2025.
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