On Tuesday, July 2, 2019, in Freehold, New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy signed the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act into law. This Act substantially expands and reforms the Medical Marijuana Program in New Jersey.

Significant changes to the Medical Marijuana Program include, among other things:

  • the creation of the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (“CRC”) to oversee, administer, and enforce the medical cannabis program;
  • expansion of the medical conditions which may be treated by medical cannabis;
  • expansion of the list of professionals who may authorize adult patients’ use of medical cannabis;
  • an increase to the number of caregivers a patient may have from one to two;
  • an increase to the maximum monthly amount of usable cannabis that a patient may be dispensed from two to three ounces;
  • an increase to the amount of usable cannabis that a physician may authorize to be provided to a patient at one time from a 90-day supply to a one-year supply;
  • authorization of adults, in addition to minors, to use edible forms of medical cannabis;
  • a phase-out of the sales tax on medical cannabis over the next three years;
  • the creation of a medical cannabis delivery certification, authorizing the delivery of medical cannabis to patients at their homes by a certified medical cannabis handler; and
  • the creation of separate medical cannabis cultivator, manufacturer, and dispensary permits.

The Act requires the CRC to issue a request for new permit applications within the first year of the effective date of the Act. Importantly, the Act restricts the number and type of permits that the CRC may award within the first 18 months of the effective date of the Act. For example, entities may only be awarded one permit of any type (cultivator, manufacturer, or dispensary) and the number of cultivation permits – including those already awarded – shall be capped at 28. After the initial 18-month period, an applicant will be permitted to concurrently hold more than one permit, and the CRC would be able to issue additional cultivation permits. The CRC is permitted to periodically evaluate whether additional permits should be issued and administer further requests for applications.

The Act is named for Jake Honig, a resident of Howell, New Jersey who died at the age of seven due to brain cancer. Prior to his death, Jake used medical cannabis to successfully manage and ease the symptoms of his illness; however, the monthly two-ounce limit under the law was not enough to provide him constant relief. Since his passing, the Honig family has advocated for changes to the medical cannabis laws to help those suffering as their son did.