Consequences of Getting a Medical Card in New Jersey

  1. New Jersey Cannabis
  2. New Jersey Medical Marijuana Card
  3. Consequences of Having a MMJ Card in New Jersey

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Benefits of Having a Medical Marijuana Card in New Jersey

Medical marijuana cardholders in New Jersey are usually prioritized over recreational weed users, and they enjoy the following benefits:

Legal Protection

Medical marijuana cardholders are not subject to prosecution for purchasing or possessing marijuana in line with the set rules under New Jersey cannabis law. The Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act protects patients who use marijuana to alleviate suffering from certain debilitating medical conditions from arrest and prosecution. In addition, such patients are covered from property forfeiture and criminal penalties for possessing or buying not more than the state-approved limits of medical cannabis products. However, New Jersey medical cannabis law currently prohibits the home cultivation of marijuana by medical marijuana patients and does not protect them from prosecution for growing marijuana plants. It is also illegal for patients to possess marijuana plants.

New Jersey requires medical marijuana cardholders to carry proper identification (valid IDs) and their medical cannabis program (MCP) cards around all the time to enable them to stay safe. This is especially necessary when driving with medical cannabis products within the state to prevent arrest by law enforcement. It is best to keep cannabis products locked away and in their original packaging from somebody else's reach (in the trunk or glove boxes) when driving with them. Law enforcement officers in New Jersey are authorized by state law to arrest any individual under 21 caught in possession of cannabis without a state-issued medical marijuana card. Offenders risk certain legal consequences for such action, which include a written warning and referral to community-based support and services.

Employment Accommodation

Although employers have the right to maintain a drug-free work environment, medical marijuana use is not a determining factor for firing or hiring a person in New Jersey. As stipulated in the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, it is unlawful to take any adverse employment decision against an employee based solely on their status as a registered medical marijuana patient. However, the rights of patients who consume or possess marijuana during work hours or on the workplace premises outside of work hours are not protected under this Act. An employer has the right to prohibit such behavior or take adverse employment action against any employee caught doing so.

A registered medical marijuana patient cannot be an employee of a federal agency in New Jersey due to the ban on cannabis at the federal level. Per state law, if an employee or job applicant fails an employer-mandated drug test, the employer must provide the employee or job applicant a chance to present a legitimate medical explanation. When this happens, the job applicant or employee may explain the reason for the positive result to the employer in writing or request a confirmatory retest (at the employee's expense) using the original sample. As part of their justification for the positive test result, the employee or job applicant may present their New Jersey medical marijuana card or the authorization for medical marijuana issued by their medical provider.

Lower Prices

Due to taxes imposed on adult-use marijuana sales in New Jersey, medical marijuana patients often pay less for cannabis products than recreational consumers. Currently, while the sale of medical cannabis is tax-free in the state, recreational marijuana sales are subject to a 6.625% sales tax and a social equity excise fee of ⅓ of 1%.

Higher Purchase Limits

Having a New Jersey medical cannabis card allows a person to purchase more marijuana products than non-medical users in the state. Medical marijuana patients may purchase up to 3 ounces of usable cannabis per time (within a 30-day period, while the purchase limit for recreational cannabis is 1 ounce in a single transaction. Terminally ill patients are exempted from the maximum limit and may purchase as many ounces of usable marijuana as required for treatment.

Access for Minors

With a New Jersey medical marijuana card, a registered patient who is a minor can legally access medical cannabis for treatment through their designated caregiver. On the other hand, it is illegal for anyone younger than 21 to possess or purchase marijuana for recreational purposes in the state.

Reciprocity

Several other states with medical marijuana programs recognize medical cannabis cards issued in New Jersey. This means that if a registered cannabis patient in New Jersey is traveling to such locations, they can still purchase or/and possess medical cannabis products, depending on the state laws on reciprocity. States where New Jersey medical marijuana cards are accepted include Arizona, Washington DC, Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nevada, South Dakota, Maine, and Michigan.

Downsides of Getting a Medical Marijuana Card in New Jersey

Despite its benefits, medical marijuana cards may also impose some limitations on cardholders. Below are some of the downsides of having a New Jersey medical cannabis card:

Firearm Prohibition

Having a medical marijuana card in New Jersey means no gun for the cardholder. The state aligns with federal law on gun ownership rights of medical cannabis patients as stipulated in the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA). Under federal law, it is unlawful for anyone who uses marijuana, including for medical purposes, to possess or own a firearm. Marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act. Due to New Jersey's alignment with federal law's prohibition of gun ownership by marijuana users, no law in the state protects registered marijuana patients who own guns.

Driving Restrictions

New Jersey is a "No Tolerance" state and has no legal limit for THC in a driver's system. This means that a person can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) of marijuana if caught operating a motor vehicle with any amount of THC in their blood. This does not exempt medical cannabis users in the state. It is unlawful for anyone who carries a New Jersey medical cannabis card to apply for a Commercial Driver's License (CDL). The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) Rule 49 CFR Part 40 prohibits getting a CDL with a medical marijuana card. Having a medical marijuana card and a CDL at the same time comes with various risks.

If a medical marijuana cardholder in New Jersey is convicted of a DUI, the marijuana DUI charge will not be eligible for expungement because it is a traffic offense, not a criminal charge. Marijuana DUIs in the state carry severe penalties, including loss of driving privileges, fines, and at least 30 days in prison. The penalties are more stringent if a person is prosecuted for repeated offenses.

Annual Renewal

A patient who wants to remain in the state's Medical Marijuana Program must renew their card and is expected to initiate the process at least 60 days before it expires. The renewal application process for a New Jersey medical marijuana card may sometimes be rigorous and usually comes with some inconveniences. Typically, medical cannabis cards issued by the New Jersey Department of Health are valid for two years, but physicians' certifications must be renewed yearly.

Consulting a healthcare provider via telemedicine or in-person to obtain an Authorizing Provider Statement (certification) during the renewal application process can cost at least $150, depending on the provider. Cardholders will also have to pay a $50 card renewal fee. However, certain individuals are eligible for fee reduction and only need to pay $20. These include military veterans, senior citizens aged 65 years and older, and recipients of government assistance programs such as Medicare, SNAP, New Jersey Medicaid, and New Jersey TDI.

Federal Prohibitions

The use or possession of cannabis remains prohibited on all federal lands, including parks, courts, and federal prisons, in New Jersey and other states. Consequently, medical marijuana cardholders cannot legally consume or possess cannabis in federally assisted housing in New Jersey. Generally, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) prohibits admitting marijuana users to HUD-subsidized housing. Federal laws regulate federal employment. Hence, a medical marijuana cardholder has no chance of getting a federal job in New Jersey. In addition, any employee of a federal agency who obtains a New Jersey medical cannabis card risks losing their job, as that violates federal laws.

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