Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation into law today significantly amending and expanding the state’s medical cannabis access program. The new law takes immediate effect.
Assembly Bill 20, The Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act, institutes various changes to the program to better facilitate patients’ access to the substance. Specifically, it expands the pool of patients eligible for cannabis therapy to include those with chronic pain, menstrual cramps, and epilepsy. It also permits physicians assistants and advance practice nurses to make medical cannabis recommendations. It increases the total quantity of herbal cannabis that patients may obtain monthly from two ounces to three, and phases out the existing sales tax on medical cannabis goods.
The new law also for the first time permits dispensaries to provide edible cannabis products and to operate on-site consumption areas. Moreover, patients certified to access medical cannabis products will now have their registration validated for one year rather than for only four months. The law also permits specific health care facility employees to operate as patient caregivers. Health care facilities may not be “penalized or denied any benefit under State law solely for permitting or prohibiting the handling, administration, usage, or storage of medical cannabis.”
The law provides expanded legal protections for qualified patients and their caregivers. Specifically, it states, “[Q]ualifying patients and designated caregivers may not be discriminated against when enrolling in schools and institutions of higher education, when renting or leasing real property, or in the issuance of professional licensing certifications.” It also “prohibits employers from taking any adverse employment action against an employee based on the employee’s status as a registry identification cardholder,” and restricts hospitals from denying organ transplant eligibility solely based on one’s patient status. It also restricts judges from denying custody or visiting rights to parents who are registered in the state’s program, among other changes.
Over 40,000 New Jersey citizens are enrolled in the state’s cannabis access program.