Expansion of New Jersey’s Medical Cannabis Industry Is Now Official

July 3, 2019
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Yesterday, Gov. Phil Murphy Signed the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act into Law

It has been a big week for the New Jersey medical marijuana industry. On July 2, Gov. Phil Murphy signed the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act into law. One day earlier, the New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) published a new Request for Applications to expand the state’s Medicinal Marijuana Program.

Expansion of New Jersey’s Medical Cannabis Industry Is Now Official

The DOH is seeking new applicants to operate up to 24 additional Alternative Treatment Centers (ATCs): Up to 8 in the northern region of the state, up to 8 in the central region, up to 7 in the southern region, and up to 1 “at-large” to be determined during the award process.

Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act

The Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act (Act) contains numerous provisions to expand access to medical cannabis in New Jersey. As detailed in prior articles, the Act is named after Jake Honig of Howell. The 7-year-old boy, who died from brain cancer early this year, obtained significant relief from cannabis oil. However, due to restrictions on the amount his parents could obtain under the existing Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, they were forced to use it sparingly.

For a period of 18 months after the effective date of the bill, patients may be dispensed up to three ounces of medical cannabis in dried form or the equivalent amount in any other form. Thereafter, the maximum amount that may be dispensed to a patient will be established by regulation. The Act will also allow practitioners to authorize up to a one-year supply at one time.

Patients will also have greater access to medical cannabis. Among the many changes under the Act, physician assistants and advanced practice nurses may authorize patients for medical cannabis. In addition, health care practitioners will not be required to register or be publicly listed in any registry, as a condition of authorizing patients for medical cannabis.  The law authorizes delivery of medical cannabis, as well as the establishment of consumption lounges.

Changes are also coming for the medical cannabis industry. Oversight over the Medicinal Marijuana Program will shift to the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC). The Act also establishes three distinct permit types in connection with the production and dispensing of medical cannabis: medical cannabis cultivators, medical cannabis manufacturers, and medical cannabis dispensaries.

The Act restricts the total number of entities authorized to cultivate medical cannabis to 28 for the first 18 months after its effective date. Going forward, the CRC will be required to specify by regulation the number of new permits of each type that it will authorize in the first year following the effective date of the bill, and thereafter periodically evaluate whether the current number of permits is sufficient to meet the needs of qualifying patients and issue requests for new applications as needed. 

New Jersey Seeking 24 New ATCs

As discussed fully in a prior article, the DOH recently withdrew a previous RFA that it had issued prior to the Legislature and the Murphy Administration reaching a compromise on the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act. The prior version called for 108 (ATCs), including up to 24 cultivation endorsements, up to 30 manufacturing endorsements, and up to 54 dispensary endorsements.

Under the new RFA, three types of permits/endorsements will still be available for ATCs: cultivation, dispensing and vertically integrated permits. However, the total number available will be lower. In total, the DOH will seek up to 5 cultivation endorsements, up to 15 dispensary endorsements, and up to 4 vertically integrated permits. Vertically integrated permits include one cultivation endorsement, one manufacturing endorsement and one dispensary endorsement. 

Applicants may seek up to three endorsements total, and may only submit one application per region. Applicants for vertically integrated permits, because they constitute three endorsements, may only submit one application total. 

Key Deadlines

The ATC application process will now move quickly. Below are several key dates that prospective applicants need to know:

  • Monday, July 15, 2019 (or before): Application forms posted
  • Friday, August 2, 2019: Pre-Application Webinar
  • Wednesday, August 21, 2019 at 3 PM EST: Submission Deadline for Dispensary Applications
  • Thursday, August 22, 2019 at 3 PM EST: Submission Deadline for Cultivation and Vertically-Integrated Applications

According to the RFA, the review and award schedule will be determined based on the volume of applications received. The DOH may also stagger awards by type of application (vertically integrated, cultivation, or dispensary).

For entities that are interested in entering the New Jersey medical cannabis industry, there are numerous legal, logistical and operational issues that must be addressed. Prospective ATC applicants should contact a knowledgeable attorney to discuss this process in greater detail.

If you have any questions, please contact us

If you have any questions or if you would like to discuss the matter further, please contact me, Dan McKillop, at 201-806-3364.

This article is a part of a series pertaining to cannabis legalization in New Jersey and the United States at large. Prior articles in this series are below:

Disclaimer: Possession, use, distribution, and/or sale of cannabis is a Federal crime and is subject to related Federal policy. Legal advice provided by Scarinci Hollenbeck, LLC is designed to counsel clients regarding the validity, scope, meaning, and application of existing and/or proposed cannabis law. Scarinci Hollenbeck, LLC will not provide assistance in circumventing Federal or state cannabis law or policy, and advice provided by our office should not be construed as such.