In New Jersey, marijuana is legal for medical and recreational uses by adults aged 21 and over. This implies that New Jerseyans aged 21 and over can possess and use marijuana as provided by the law without getting arrested.
In January 2010, in accordance with the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (CUMMA), medical marijuana became legal. This Act was enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey. Based on CUMMA, New Jersey patients with qualifying conditions and state-registered physician's prescriptions can use marijuana to treat approved debilitating medical conditions. It also legalizes the possession but not the consumption of marijuana by state-registered physicians, primary caregivers, alternative treatment centers, and entities authorized to produce marijuana for medical purposes. The New Jersey Department of Health's Division of Medicinal Marijuana oversees the Medicinal Marijuana Program (MMP) and issues MMP cards to qualified patients. However, qualified patients or their caregivers may get marijuana without an MMP card, provided they are registered with the MMP and are using an MMP-registered physician's recommendation.
On March 27, 2018, Governor Murphy issued Executive Order No. 6. It directed the New Jersey Department of Health to review all aspects of New Jersey's Medical Marijuana Program (MMP), focusing on ways to make marijuana more accessible for medical purposes. The Department of Health's recommendations mainly modified the regulations to responsibly expand access to marijuana for medical purposes through operational and regulatory changes. Amongst several recommendations, the Department of Health added five new categories of qualifying debilitating medical conditions. This includes migraines, anxiety, Tourette's syndrome, chronic visceral pain, and chronic pain related to musculoskeletal disorders. The Department will also begin accepting requests from existing ATCs for waivers to allow satellite locations.
On July 2, 2019, Governor Murphy signed the lake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act (Assembly No. 20) into law based on the provisions of Executive Order No. 6. The amendments include:
The monthly limit is increased from two ounces to three ounces in 30 days for 18 months. After the set time elapses, the maximum amount will be determined by the registered physician's recommendation. However, terminally ill and hospice care patients will not be subject to the monthly limit.
Sales tax will be phased out over three years. The medical marijuana tax goes down to 4% in July 2020, 2% in July 2021 and was eliminated in July 2022.
The authorization period is extended from 90 days to one year.
Edibles can now be dispensed to adults for consumption and not only to minors as it was in the previous law.
A patient can have two caregivers.
Individuals registered as qualifying patients in other states will be considered qualifying patients in New Jersey for up to six months, during which they can consume medical marijuana. However, they will have to get authorization from a health care practitioner in New Jersey based on a qualifying condition.
Dispensaries will be required to post on their websites a fixed price list that applies to all medical marijuana products. However, they will not be allowed to deviate from the fixed prices; they may only revise them once a month.
Dispensaries will be allowed to deliver medical marijuana to registered patients to improve patient access.
Physician assistants and advanced practice nurses can now authorize medical marijuana treatments.
There will be employment protections for patients.
The Cannabis Regulatory Commission was created to replace the Health Department.
Recreational marijuana was legalized in New Jersey following the signing of the Cannabis Regulatory Enforcement Assistance Marketplace Modernization Act on February 22, 2021. The law allows the recreational use and possession of marijuana by adults aged 21 and over. In accordance with the law, adults aged 21 and over can have up to six ounces of marijuana on private property. Recreational marijuana became legalized with approximately 67% vote.
The sale of recreational marijuana in New Jersey began April 21st, 2022. As of November 2022, eligible adults can purchase recreational marijuana from 19 retail dispensaries, including 13 alternative treatment centers without a medical card. Obtaining marijuana from unlicensed dispensaries or illegal drug merchants is considered illegal, and culprits will be punished. There is no law restricting felons from using marijuana for medical purposes in New Jersey. However, it is necessary to verify with the MMP or, in the case of recreational marijuana, the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission.
On the first day of adult-use marijuana sale in New Jersey, more than 12,000 persons purchased recreational marijuana, and the sales value exceeded $1.9 million. Within the first month, revenue from the recreational sales of marijuana was over $24 million from over 200,000 transactions. By the end of the second quarter of 2022, revenue from adult-use marijuana hit over $79 million. Medical marijuana sales revenue was over $55 million and $59 million in the first and second quarters of 2022. In the 2nd quarter of 2022, the total income from recreational and medical marijuana sales was over $138 million.
The Cannabis Regulatory Commission expects these figures to rise over time as the demand for cannabis in the state continues to grow. The Commission stipulates that the increase in sales figures leads to more revenue for New Jerseyans. The government reinvests the income generated into the economy by supporting new businesses and job creation
Since the legalization of medical marijuana in New Jersey, there has not been any significant effect on the economy regarding tax revenue and job creation. As of July 2020, only 20 Alternative Treatment Centers (ATCs) operate in New Jersey. The Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) establishes the framework for the operation of recreational marijuana dispensaries and safe and responsible adult-use consumption in the state.
From the inception of recreational marijuana sales in April to the end of June 2022, tax revenue sales from the sale of adult-use marijuana was over $4 million inclusive of $219,000 social equity excise tax. The social equity excise fee is $1.10 per ounce of recreational cannabis sold by a cannabis cultivator. New Jersey laws, the state invests 70% of tax revenue, including revenue from social equity excise fees, into impact zones. The CRC will adjust the social equity excise fees between $10 and $60 nine months after imposing the first fees. By implication, when more dispensaries open and marijuana prices fall, these impact zones will continue to receive funds from the same tax. The current state sales tax for recreational marijuana is 6.625%, and 2% for municipal tax. However, effective July 1st, 2022, the sales tax rate for medical marijuana is 0%.
In 2018, Governor Phil Murphy began to include marijuana revenue in state budget proposals optimistically. In 2018, he estimated revenue of $60 million over six months. Similarly, in 2019, he estimated revenue of $80 million for both medical and legalized marijuana.
The crime rate of marijuana in New Jersey constantly increased between 2010 and 2018. According to a Marijuana Data Brief, the number of marijuana-related crimes in 2013 was 27,923. This number increased in 2019 to 37,623 marijuana-related crimes. The crime data recorded in the state were for marijuana possession and distribution of marijuana. As it has been in previous years, the racial disparity in the arrests of white New Jerseyans compared to black New Jerseyans is quite contrasting. Black New Jerseyans were 3 times more likely to get arrested for marijuana possession than white New Jerseys. However, this increased in 2018, implying that Black New Jerseyans became 3.5 times more likely to get arrested for marijuana possession than white New Jerseyans. Below is the arrest data for marijuana possession in 2016, arranged to show the racial disparity:
Whites - 19,803
Blacks - 11,798
Native Americans - 80
Asians - 598
Furthermore, there was a significant increase in the average number of arrests per day for the possession of marijuana between 2013 and 2017. In 2013, the number of statewide arrests per day was 66, increasing to 95 in 2017. There is currently no data available for the period after marijuana was legalized in February 2021.
On January 18, 2010, Ex-Governor Jon Corzine signed the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (CUMMA) to legalize medical marijuana on his last day of office. This made New Jersey the 14th state to legalize marijuana for medical use. However, the legalization of marijuana was not significantly felt because Ex-Governor Chris Christie took office the next day. On August 9, 2012, the New Jersey's Medical Marijuana Patient Registry resumed, and registered physicians were permitted to initiate patient certifications with the MMP. CUMMA authorized the New Jersey Health Department to formulate rules to add other illnesses to the list of approved debilitating conditions. According to this law, several illnesses have been added to the original list between 2013 and 2017.
It became legal for patients younger than 18 years old to be treated with edible forms of marijuana pursuant to the law Governor Christie signed on September 10, 2013. The first Alternative Treatment Center (ATC) commenced activities in December 2012 in Montclair Township. Between December 2012 and October 2015, four additional centers were opened in Woodbridge, Egg Harbor Township, Borough of Bellmawr, and Cranbury Township. Harmony Foundation joined the number of ATCs in New Jersey in July 2017, when the sixth permit was issued to authorize it to cultivate marijuana in the Town of Secaucus. Since then, New Jersey has issued several other permits for ATCs and cultivation centers to make marijuana more accessible to registered patients.
The most recent law on marijuana, the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act, was signed by Governor Phil Murphy in July 2019. The law mostly contained recommendations from the Health Department to expand the medical marijuana measure. Some of the Act's provisions were to phase out sales tax over three years and create the Cannabis Regulatory Commission] to take over regulation of the medical cannabis program from the New Jersey Health Department.
Medical marijuana paved the way for the legalization of recreational marijuana in New Jersey. Senator Nicholas Scutari, a Democrat from Union, established legislation to legalize recreational marijuana in New Jersey. On November 3, 2020, 67% of New Jerseyans voted in support of the New Jersey Public Question 1. Pursuant to this, the possession and use of marijuana for residents aged 21 and older were legalized. This measure became official on February 22, 2021, when Governor Phil Murphy signed the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act into law. The law authorized the possession of not more than 6 ounces (170 grams) of cannabis or 17 grams of hash. The CRC set up a marketplace framework, which will issue 37 licenses for the sale of marijuana when sales begin. On the 21st of April 2022, the legal sale of recreational marijuana began in New Jersey.