Despite the false start to the 2019 marijuana legalization the summer has shown the budding seeds of change for medical marijuana
On July 2, 2019 New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act (the “Act”), as reported in a State of New Jersey Press Release
. The Act, also identified as A-20, provides many changes, including the length of time a patient’s authorization to purchase medical marijuana will last, the number of and the types of conditions that can be treated with medical marijuana, authorizing multiple caregivers who can collect marijuana for patients, the allowance for edibles to be prescribed for adults and not only children, and a prospective tax exemption plan.
The bill’s adopting statement provides: “[T]his bill makes various revisions to the “Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act,” P.L.2009, c.307 (C.24:6I-1 et al.), including renaming the act the “Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act,” establishing a new Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) to oversee the medical cannabis program; revising the requirements to authorize a patient for medical cannabis; revising the permit and operational requirements for alternative treatment centers (ATCs), including establishing discrete cultivator, manufacturer, and dispensary permits; creating a new clinical registrant permit; authorizing delivery of medical cannabis, and establishing additional protections for registry cardholders.”.
These changes provide for an expansion for the medical marijuana program and may slow the rush to legalization. For example, the expansion of the treatable illnesses alone can help increase the numbers of New Jersey patients. The new law changes the term “debilitating medical condition” to “qualifying medical condition,” and updates and revises the list of conditions in certain ways, including adding additional conditions and providing that medical cannabis may be used as a treatment of first resort for any condition included in the list, which are: seizure disorder, including epilepsy; intractable skeletal muscular spasticity; post-traumatic stress disorder; glaucoma; positive status for human immunodeficiency virus; acquired immune deficiency syndrome; cancer; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; multiple sclerosis; muscular dystrophy; inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn's disease; terminal illness, if the patient has a prognosis of less than 12 months of life; anxiety; migraines; Tourette’s syndrome; dysmenorrhea; chronic pain; opioid use disorder; or any other condition that is approved by the CRC.
has reported that since January 2018, the number of medical marijuana patients has increased from 16,000 to 50,000.00 as of this month. These numbers, prior to the new law’s enactment, already show society’s willingness to be part of a monitored state program with a system of checks and balances.
Moreover, the strength of the State’s medical marijuana is no more evident than in the recent announcement of two more dispensaries headed for uncharted territory in Central Jersey as reported by our local news sources
. As reported, two new dispensaries currently are primed to open in Monmouth County, an area where no dispensaries exist.
The seeds of change are evident but not ripening fast enough for many. Thus, those that are already in the business can continue perfecting the medical treatment for those growing numbers of new patients seeking a way to ease their anxiety or pain. However, those looking for a new “legal” vice must still wait.