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New Jersey’s Road to Cannabis Legalization

Lyndsey Shaw Licensing & Laws 5 Comments

Cannabis Legalization

New Jersey’s road to cannabis legalization has been steadily moving forward. In January 2010 the state passed the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (CUMMA), which created New Jersey’s state medical marijuana program. Patients who are suffering from serious illness shall have access to medical marijuana provided by licensed caregiver centers ‘dispensaries’. While this program was a step in the right direction, marijuana advocates argued the Act did not provide enough access for patients due to the limited caregiver facilities and limited qualifying patient conditions.

New Jersey’s marijuana policy appeared to gain steam when Governor Phil Murphy was elected into office in January 2018.  Governor Phil Murphy is a strong supporter of cannabis legalization. Since taking office, he has focused on expanding the state’s medical marijuana program, pushing for Adult Use Legalization and citizen expungement for petty drug crimes. 

Using the momentum from his campaign, Governor Murphy continued the push for regulated cannabis laws. In November 2018, the New Jersey Senate and Assembly approved a bill to regulate, tax and legalize marijuana. Additional measures introduce were the expansion of New Jersey’s medical marijuana program and the expungement of petty drug crimes. Unfortunately, the Marijuana Legalization Bill, S-2703, lost steam and did not continue to a vote.

New Jersey legal cannabis

Don’t worry, Governor Murphy has a plan.

After a disappointing show of support, the push for reformed cannabis laws continued. In July 2019 the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act was enacted. This act substantially expands the state’s medical marijuana program.

Here is a brief list of the changes:

  • Raising the monthly possession limit from 2 ounces to 3 ounces
  • Extending the authorization period from 90 days to 1 year 
  • Adults can now purchase edibles
  • Phasing-out sales tax 
  • Expanding the laws for physicians to provide access
  • Patients can have up to 2 caregivers
  • Employment protection for patients 
  • Reciprocity with other states’ medical marijuana programs
  • Dispensaries must post price-lists
  • Home delivery program
  • Creation of the Cannabis Regulatory Commission

Continuing his promise to transform New Jersey’s criminal system with regards to petty drug offenses, Governor Murphy signed into law the Expungement Bill, S-4154, in December 2019. In a nutshell, this bill will expunge low-level marijuana convictions for residents.

One last hurdle to Legal Cannabis in NJ

New Jersey Legal Cannabis Vote

New Jersey lawmakers are stepping aside and letting the people of New Jersey vote. Quite frankly, it’s the most exciting news for cannabis in the state of New Jersey – letting the people vote!  The following question will be on the November 2020 Ballot:

“Do you approve amending the Constitution to legalize a controlled form of marijuana called ‘cannabis’? Only adults at least 21 years of age could use cannabis. The State commission created to oversee the State’s medical cannabis program would also oversee the new, personal use cannabis market. Cannabis products would be subject to the State sales tax. If authorized by the Legislature, a municipality may pass a local ordinance to charge a local tax on cannabis products.”

Time will tell if the residents of New Jersey will step up and vote to legalize cannabis in the state of New Jersey.

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