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History of Medical Cannabis in New Jersey
On January 18, 2010, Governor Jon Corzine signed the New Jersey Compassionate Use Marijuana Act, SB 119, into law on his last day in office. Governor Christie subsequently made several attempts to delay the program. After a series of legislative and bureaucratic battles, the New Jersey Department of Health adopted rules for the program in 2011. These rules included changes to the licensing process for cultivators and distributors, prohibited home delivery, and required a recommending physician to certify that a patient's qualifying condition is "resistant to conventional medical therapy" and must be recertified every 90 days. Patients must obtain medicine from one of six Alternative Treatment Centers. The certifying physician must indicate the quantity a registered patient can obtain, not to exceed two ounces in a 30-day period.
The first patient registrations were accepted in August 2012, and the first Alternative Treatment Center (ATC) opened in December 2012. In August 2013, SB 2842 lifted the limits on the number of cannabis cultivars that may be cultivated and allowed for the manufacture and distribution of edible cannabis solely to minors. In 2016 the legislature passed AB 457 adding PTSD as a qualifying condition, and the Department of Health finally appointed a panel of physicians and health professionals with the authority to add more conditions.
In 2018, New Jersey added five new categories of qualifying conditions, including chronic pain and opioid use disorder, and reduced patient and caregiver fees from $200 to $100. The state also added an additional $20 dollar discount for seniors and veterans. New 2018 regulations also removed the cap of one caregiver per patient and allowed for Alternative Treatment Centers to open up satellite locations. Governor Murphy also announced in 2018 the state's plan to license up to 108 new medical cannabis businesses.
New 2018 regulations also expanded the forms of available cannabis to include oil based formulations like vape cartridges, streamlined the process to add new qualifying conditions, and removed the requirement of a psychiatric evaluation for minor patients. These regulations also removed the requirement that physicians had to list their information online to participate in the program. Also in 2018, a state workers compensation judge ordered a town to cover the cost of a town employee's medical cannabis, setting a precedent for potential future coverage in other workers' compensation cases.