2020-21 Improvements and Recommendations
After several years of failed attempts to legalize cannabis to all adults over 21, the New Jersey Legislature voted with a supermajority to pass the decision onto voters through a referendum on the 2020 ballot. Over 2/3 of voters in New Jersey approved the initiative which amends the state constitution that will allow adults across the state to possess up to six ounces of dried flower. Legislators spent the early months of 2021 drafting legislation to satisfy the demands of the new constitutional language. By the end of February Governor Murphy signed A5342 into law which would create the retail program that voters desired.
In June, Governor Murphy signed a bill that would extend the practical application of telehealth to doctors recommending patients medical cannabis. The legislation set the measure to expire 270 days after it became enrolled as law on June 24th.
2021 was a year of exceptional growth for New Jersey’s patient population, with over 40,000 new patients added to the registry. This was accompanied by a significant and ongoing expansion to New Jersey’s retail access from 9 to 22 dispensaries.
For 2022, ASA recommends that New Jersey shift their focus from adult use legalization to cover the existing gaps in their legal protections for patients. Patients must be protected in family court and child custody hearings, in housing, and from discriminatory roadside sobriety tests. Finally, New Jersey is one of only two states where adults are allowed to buy cannabis at a dispensary but are not allowed to grow it at home. Ideally, any adult should be allowed to grow cannabis at home, but at the very least legislators should work towards allowing patients and caregivers to grow with a special permit.
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