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New Jersey Medicinal Marijuana Program on Road to Expansion, Is Full Legalization Next?

Author: Daniel T. McKillop|July 31, 2018

Efforts to Expand the New Jersey Medicinal Marijuana Program are Progressing Rapidly

New Jersey Medicinal Marijuana Program on Road to Expansion, Is Full Legalization Next?

Efforts to Expand the New Jersey Medicinal Marijuana Program are Progressing Rapidly

Efforts to expand New Jersey’s Medicinal Marijuana Program are progressing rapidly. An estimated 800 applicants recently attended the New Jersey Department of Health’s (DOH) mandatory conference, all hoping to become one of the state’s six new alternative treatment centers (ATCs).

Expansion of New Jersey Medicinal Marijuana Program Receives Widespread Support
Photo courtesy of Marco Jimenez (Unsplash.com)

Given the strong interest, the DOH anticipates the issuance of additional requests for applications (RFAs) in the future. “I’m certainly humbled by the fact that there’s such a huge outpouring of interest and support,” said Jeff Brown, assistant commissioner of the Health Department’s medical marijuana program.

Patients are also showing greater interest in medical cannabis. In July, the DOH announced that the Medicinal Marijuana Program has grown by 10,000 patients since Gov. Phil Murphy took office, owing largely to the addition of new qualifying conditions and lower fees. Of the 10,000 patients who have signed up since January, 6,300 have one of the six new medical conditions added at the end of March: anxiety, migraines, Tourette’s syndrome, chronic pain related to musculoskeletal disorders, and chronic visceral pain.

Application Process for ATCs

In addition to hosting the mandatory application conference, the DOH has posted the application materials on its website. The agency has also received 530 questions about the Medicinal Marijuana Program, ATCs, and the RFA process. Answers to many of the inquiries are also available on the DOH website. For entities interested in entering New Jersey’s medical cannabis industry, the documents are an invaluable resource, even if you are not applying to become an ATC at this time.

For this RFA, the DOH has divided the State into northern, central, and southern regions and will likely issue two licenses for vertically integrated ATCs per region. Applicants cannot be existing ATCs, can be for-profit or nonprofit, and must demonstrate the ability to cultivate, manufacture and produce their own medical marijuana products.

As detailed more fully in a prior article, the DOH will use a 1000-point scale when evaluating ATC applications. Applicants must show that they are prepared to handle all aspects of the cannabis industry, with cultivation, manufacturing, and dispensary operations accounting for 300 points. The ability to demonstrate prior business experience and compliance is also important, as well as community support and participation.

The DOH will notify successful applicants by November 1, 2018. For those who are not selected, there are additional opportunities in the medical cannabis industry on the horizon. The DOH will request and accept applications for non-vertically integrated medical cannabis operations in the coming months. According to the DOH, it anticipates the release of two additional Requests for Applications in the fall of 2018 and winter of 2019. The first will be for additional cultivators and manufacturers, and the second for additional dispensary locations.

Municipalities Support Medical Cannabis

Several New Jersey municipalities are also taking steps to clear the way for medical cannabis expansion. In Fort Lee, the city council passed a resolution confirming support for ATCs in the municipality. “This is subject to, of course, the ultimate negotiation of a fair relationship and subject to vetting,” Mayor Mark J. Sokolich said. “There’s incredible interest in doing this in Fort Lee. We’ve been contacted by at least eight groups that are all incredibly qualified.”

Red Bank recently approved a resolution stating that the “Mayor and Council members may immediately begin to issue letters in support of responsible medical marijuana businesses applying to the New Jersey Department of Health for an ATC permit.” Similarly, Franklin Township Council members voted unanimously to pass a resolution that supports bringing an ATC to the municipality.

Other municipalities are asking the public to weigh in. Earlier this month, the Vineland city council approved a referendum question for the November ballot: “Shall the City of Vineland permit the siting of medical marijuana cultivation and dispensary alternative treatment centers within the geographic boundaries of Vineland?”

Legalization of Recreational Marijuana

Legalized recreational marijuana could also soon be a reality. Senate President Steve Sweeney says he has the support needed to pass bills that would legalize recreational cannabis and statutorily expand the state’s medical cannabis program (despite the fact that the bills are not in final form), and he is planning for votes in September.

The likelihood of success is higher now that Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin has publicly endorsed allowing recreational use. Sen. Sweeney also believes that he will get some Republican support. “I’m confident we‘ll get to 21 and 41,” Sweeney told Politico. “I‘m not going to get to 28, but I’m confident I’ll get to 21 votes and the speaker will find 41.” Sen. Sweeney also reconfirmed that lawmakers won’t expand access to medical marijuana without legalizing recreational cannabis statewide.

For entities that are interested in entering the New Jersey 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. Scarinci Hollenbeck is currently representing clients seeking ATC licenses in both multiple and single regions and look forward to sharing our experience with additional businesses.

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:

<small><p>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.</p></small>

New Jersey Medicinal Marijuana Program on Road to Expansion, Is Full Legalization Next?

Author: Daniel T. McKillop

Efforts to expand New Jersey’s Medicinal Marijuana Program are progressing rapidly. An estimated 800 applicants recently attended the New Jersey Department of Health’s (DOH) mandatory conference, all hoping to become one of the state’s six new alternative treatment centers (ATCs).

Expansion of New Jersey Medicinal Marijuana Program Receives Widespread Support
Photo courtesy of Marco Jimenez (Unsplash.com)

Given the strong interest, the DOH anticipates the issuance of additional requests for applications (RFAs) in the future. “I’m certainly humbled by the fact that there’s such a huge outpouring of interest and support,” said Jeff Brown, assistant commissioner of the Health Department’s medical marijuana program.

Patients are also showing greater interest in medical cannabis. In July, the DOH announced that the Medicinal Marijuana Program has grown by 10,000 patients since Gov. Phil Murphy took office, owing largely to the addition of new qualifying conditions and lower fees. Of the 10,000 patients who have signed up since January, 6,300 have one of the six new medical conditions added at the end of March: anxiety, migraines, Tourette’s syndrome, chronic pain related to musculoskeletal disorders, and chronic visceral pain.

Application Process for ATCs

In addition to hosting the mandatory application conference, the DOH has posted the application materials on its website. The agency has also received 530 questions about the Medicinal Marijuana Program, ATCs, and the RFA process. Answers to many of the inquiries are also available on the DOH website. For entities interested in entering New Jersey’s medical cannabis industry, the documents are an invaluable resource, even if you are not applying to become an ATC at this time.

For this RFA, the DOH has divided the State into northern, central, and southern regions and will likely issue two licenses for vertically integrated ATCs per region. Applicants cannot be existing ATCs, can be for-profit or nonprofit, and must demonstrate the ability to cultivate, manufacture and produce their own medical marijuana products.

As detailed more fully in a prior article, the DOH will use a 1000-point scale when evaluating ATC applications. Applicants must show that they are prepared to handle all aspects of the cannabis industry, with cultivation, manufacturing, and dispensary operations accounting for 300 points. The ability to demonstrate prior business experience and compliance is also important, as well as community support and participation.

The DOH will notify successful applicants by November 1, 2018. For those who are not selected, there are additional opportunities in the medical cannabis industry on the horizon. The DOH will request and accept applications for non-vertically integrated medical cannabis operations in the coming months. According to the DOH, it anticipates the release of two additional Requests for Applications in the fall of 2018 and winter of 2019. The first will be for additional cultivators and manufacturers, and the second for additional dispensary locations.

Municipalities Support Medical Cannabis

Several New Jersey municipalities are also taking steps to clear the way for medical cannabis expansion. In Fort Lee, the city council passed a resolution confirming support for ATCs in the municipality. “This is subject to, of course, the ultimate negotiation of a fair relationship and subject to vetting,” Mayor Mark J. Sokolich said. “There’s incredible interest in doing this in Fort Lee. We’ve been contacted by at least eight groups that are all incredibly qualified.”

Red Bank recently approved a resolution stating that the “Mayor and Council members may immediately begin to issue letters in support of responsible medical marijuana businesses applying to the New Jersey Department of Health for an ATC permit.” Similarly, Franklin Township Council members voted unanimously to pass a resolution that supports bringing an ATC to the municipality.

Other municipalities are asking the public to weigh in. Earlier this month, the Vineland city council approved a referendum question for the November ballot: “Shall the City of Vineland permit the siting of medical marijuana cultivation and dispensary alternative treatment centers within the geographic boundaries of Vineland?”

Legalization of Recreational Marijuana

Legalized recreational marijuana could also soon be a reality. Senate President Steve Sweeney says he has the support needed to pass bills that would legalize recreational cannabis and statutorily expand the state’s medical cannabis program (despite the fact that the bills are not in final form), and he is planning for votes in September.

The likelihood of success is higher now that Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin has publicly endorsed allowing recreational use. Sen. Sweeney also believes that he will get some Republican support. “I’m confident we‘ll get to 21 and 41,” Sweeney told Politico. “I‘m not going to get to 28, but I’m confident I’ll get to 21 votes and the speaker will find 41.” Sen. Sweeney also reconfirmed that lawmakers won’t expand access to medical marijuana without legalizing recreational cannabis statewide.

For entities that are interested in entering the New Jersey 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. Scarinci Hollenbeck is currently representing clients seeking ATC licenses in both multiple and single regions and look forward to sharing our experience with additional businesses.

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:

<small><p>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.</p></small>

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