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New Jersey marijuana laws

Is marijuana legal in New Jersey?

Current legality status

medical


Cannabis is legal for qualified patients with a licensed card.

Marijuana is legal in New Jersey for medical use but not for recreational use. There are harsh penalties for people found guilty of non-medical use of cannabis.

Here is a short list of some of the penalties:

OffenseAmountImprisonment
Possession of marijuanaLess than 50 grams (1.7 oz)6 months
Sale of marijuanaLess than 1 ounce18 months
Cultivation/ManufactureLess than 5 pounds3 – 5 years
Hash and concentratesPossession, up to 5 grams6 months
ParaphernaliaPossession6 Months
Being under the influence
of marijuana
Any amount6 months

Marijuana legalization in New Jersey

New Jersey residents will vote on a statewide adult-use cannabis legalization measure in November 2020.

The New Jersey Marijuana Legalization Amendment (S2703/A4497) would amend the state constitution to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults age 21 and older. It would also legalize the cultivation, processing, and sale of retail cannabis. The constitutional amendment would take effect on January 1, 2021.

Brach Eichler cannabis poll released July 28, 2020, found that 68% of New Jersey registered voters support adult-use cannabis legalization. The favorable numbers are up significantly from a Monmouth University poll in April, which found 61% support on the issue. In that Monmouth poll, 74% of Democrats, 64% of independents, and 40% of Republicans said they would support the amendment.

Register to vote in New Jersey using this online form

Related
Election 2020: New Jersey cannabis legalization guide

New Jersey medical marijuana laws

New Jersey has experienced a long and troubling decade of cannabis legalization between 2010—when the state legislature approved the legalization of medical marijuana—and 2020. Residents have the opportunity to legalize marijuana for all adults this year.

Medical marijuana law SB 119 was signed into law as one of the last acts of then-governor Jon Corzine. Weeks later, incoming Gov. Chris Christie, a notorious marijuana prohibitionist, began a years-long campaign to stall, delay, slow-walk, and undermine the law.

Christie turned New Jersey’s medical marijuana system into one of the nation’s worst, with extremely limited qualifying conditions and dispensary access. By 2016 there were only five licensed medical marijuana dispensaries serving a state of nearly 9 million.

Some regulations were illogical and cruel. Patients were required to re-certify their condition every 30, 60, or 90 days, depending on the discretion of the doctor. So a patient with HIV, for instance, would have to be re-certified by a doctor every 90 days despite the fact that the patient’s status never changes.

Improvements were slow during the Christie years. In 2015, the legislature allowed highly regulated administration of medical marijuana on school grounds. In 2016, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was added to the list of qualifying conditions.

In late 2017, New Jersey voters replaced Gov. Christie with Phil Murphy, a Democrat who promised to expand the state’s medical marijuana program and push to legalize for all adults.

Related
If New Jersey Legalizes, Do I Have to Move Back Home?

Gov. Murphy acted quickly in March 2018, expanding medical marijuana access, cutting patient red tape, and adding five new qualifying conditions. A patient registration card is now valid for two years. “The days of making residents jump through hoops are coming to an end,” Murphy said. He added later: “We recognize that patients should be treated as patients, not criminals.”

Another improvement came with the passage of the Jake Honig Act of 2019, which raised purchase and possession limits, ended tax paid by patients by 2022, and made other long-needed reforms.

Full adult-use legalization has proven to be a tougher challenge. Though it has been championed by Gov. Murphy and many in the state legislature, internal political squabbling scuttled serious runs at a bill in 2018 and 2019.

In 2020, legislators punted. They still couldn’t agree, so they put a measure on the November 2020 statewide ballot and essentially told voters, you do it.

Got your medical card? Find a dispensary in New Jersey

New Jersey qualifying conditions for medical marijuana

New Jersey Health’s Division of Medicinal Marijuana administers the state’s medical marijuana program. The state agency has a list of medical conditions that can qualify a patient to use medical cannabis. They include:

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Anxiety
  • Cancer
  • Chronic Pain
  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Glaucoma
  • Inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease
  • Intractable skeletal spasticity
  • Migraine
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Opioid Use Disorder
  • Positive status for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Seizure disorder, including epilepsy
  • Terminal illness with prognosis of less than 12 months to live
  • Tourette Syndrome

For more information, see the home page of NJ Health’s Division of Medicinal Marijuana.

How to get a medical marijuana card in New Jersey

The first step to get a medical cannabis card in New Jersey is to consult a doctor registered with the state’s medicinal marijuana program.

Important: Only physicians registered with the state program may recommend medical marijuana to patients. Your primary care doctor may or may not be registered. Consult the list and map of registered physicians updated on the state’s website.

You will then work with your physician to ascertain if medical marijuana is right for your condition. If it is, the doctor will provide you with a reference number issued by NJ Health.

Next step: Go to NJ Health’s “How to Register” page. You will need:

  • Your NJ Health medical marijuana reference number (given by your doctor)
  • A passport-style photo taken within the last 60 days
  • A government-issued photo ID, like a driver’s license
  • Proof of New Jersey residency (can be a utility bill in your name, correspondence with the IRS, tax form like a 1099, etc)
  • Payment: There is a registration fee of $100. Some patients may be eligible for a reduced fee of $20.

The application itself must be submitted via the NJ Health website. There is no in-person registration.

After NJ Health receives the application it can take weeks to process, and then potentially longer to receive your card in the mail.

Patients may not possess marijuana obtained from a source other than a New Jersey state-licensed medical cannabis dispensary.

A state-issued medical marijuana registry card is valid for two years from its issue date, but patients must check in with their certifying physician at least once every 12 months.

Does New Jersey accept out-of-state medical cards?

Yes, but it’s complicated.

New Jersey law does allow certain leeway for out-of-state patients to possess and even purchase medical cannabis. In 2019, lawmakers passed legislation to provide additional rights for out-of-state medical marijuana users. But follow the rules carefully: Patients from another state can still find themselves arrested for marijuana possession.

 The 2019 law, known as A20, states that:

  • Individuals who are registered as patients under their states’ medical marijuana programs can receive reciprocity, or otherwise be considered to be qualifying patients, under New Jersey’s medical marijuana program for up to six months while they are visiting the state.
  • During those six months, a person is allowed to use and possess medical marijuana in an amount that complies with New Jersey’s medical marijuana program and that also complies with amounts specified by the medical marijuana laws of that person’s home state.
  • Visitors with a valid out-of-state medical marijuana card can also purchase medical marijuana from licensed dispensaries in New Jersey if they have received authorization from a New Jersey medical practitioner based on a medical condition that qualifies under New Jersey’s program.

For more information, consult the Tormey Law Firm website, from which much of this information was obtained.

When does my New Jersey medical card expire?

A NJ Health-issued medical marijuana registry card is valid for two years from its issue date.

New Jersey marijuana growing laws

New Jersey law does not allow patients or caregivers to grow their own cannabis.

According to NJ.com: “A provision letting patients grow up to six plants was included in the original draft of the medicinal marijuana law in 2009 but it was removed to improve the controversial legislation’s chances of passing. It worked. But for as long as New Jersey has operated a medicinal marijuana program, patients have complained about how difficult it is to afford their medicine.”

New Jersey public consumption laws

Registered patients are encouraged to use medicinal marijuana only in their residence.

Patients may not smoke medicinal marijuana in a school bus, on public transportation, or in a private vehicle while in motion. Additionally, patients may not smoke medicinal marijuana on any school grounds or at any correctional facility, public park, beach, recreation center, or other place where tobacco smoking is prohibited.

Patients and caregivers may not transport medicinal marijuana across state lines.

New Jersey cannabis DUI laws

It is unlawful for a person to drive under the influence of any drug or alcohol in all states. However, a registered medical marijuana patient is not considered under the influence solely for having cannabis metabolites in their system.

New Jersey criminal defense attorney Douglas Herring maintains an excellent guide to the state’s DUI laws. Herring says that in New Jersey, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol breaks the same law. As a result, you can get a DUI for drunk driving or drugged driving. Marijuana is included on the list of drugs that can get you DUI charges.

The penalties for intoxicated driving on any substance in New Jersey vary according to an offender’s DUI history. First-time offenses typically result in a $250 to $400 fine, and a jail sentence of up to 30 days with a suspended license. For repeat offenders, the penalties ratchet up.

Marijuana DUIImprisonmentMax Fine
First offenseUp to 30 daysUp to $400
Second offenseUp to 90 daysUp to $1,000
Third offenseUp to 6 months
plus loss of license
Up to $1,000

New Jersey cannabis testing regulations

New Jersey’s testing regulations have never been very good, frankly. The state’s dispensaries are only required to test for dangerous contaminants when prompted by inspection from the NJ Health’s Division of Medical Marijuana.

The Jake Honig Compassionate Use Act, signed into law in 2019, expanded New Jersey’s medical cannabis program and established a statewide Cannabis Regulatory commission to oversee it. The new commission is widely expected to draft new best-practice cannabis testing requirements to bring it in line with other states.

But as of March 2020 that commission had only a single member and was waiting for Gov. Murphy and the state assembly to appoint four others.

The coronavirus pandemic has pretty much put that on hold, so for now NJ Health still runs the show and requires very little in the way of quality-control testing of medical marijuana products.

Common questions about marijuana legalization in New Jersey

Does New Jersey have recreational or decriminalized cannabis?

New Jersey has not decriminalized marijuana possession or legalized recreational use, but the New Jersey Marijuana Legalization Amendment (S2703/A4497) will be on the ballot in Nov. 2020 and could legalize the adult use of marijuana in New Jersey for the first time.

Can medical patients and caregivers grow their own medicine in New Jersey?

No, patients and caregivers are not allowed to grow their own cannabis in New Jersey.

How much cannabis can a patient legally possess in New Jersey?

A patient may purchase up to 3 ounces of cannabis per month. There is no set limit for patients with terminal illnesses.

What types of cannabis products are legal for medical use in New Jersey?

New Jersey law allows state-licensed dispensaries to sell cannabis flower, vape cartridges, extracted oil, lozenges, and topicals.

Can you get a medical card in New Jersey if you have a felony?

A felony conviction will not prevent someone from getting a medical cannabis card in New Jersey.

What are the New Jersey medical program’s qualifying conditions?

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Anxiety
  • Cancer
  • Chronic Pain
  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Glaucoma
  • Inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease
  • Intractable skeletal spasticity
  • Migraine
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Opioid Use Disorder
  • Positive status for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Seizure disorder, including epilepsy
  • Terminal illness with prognosis of less than 12 months to live
  • Tourette Syndrome

Learn more about marijuana legalization in New Jersey

Keep up with the latest news about legalization in New Jersey

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Post last updated Sept. 8, 2020