Is Weed Legal in New Jersey?
In short, yes! New Jersey had a long-standing medical marijuana program in place, but these days, recreational use is legal. Adult-use cannabis became legal in New Jersey for adults age 21 and over on January 1st, 2021.
Voters approved Public Question 1 on November 3rd, 2020, allowing for recreational retail stores to begin operating in New Jersey. Medical Marijuana is still legal for registered medical patients with qualifying conditions. However, as this legislation is still so new and lawmakers are tasked with setting the regulations, there isn’t a lot of information out there on laws and penalties for possession amounts, so current penalties are still in place.
Legal Status of Recreational Marijuana in New Jersey
In the 2020 general election, New Jersey residents voted 2-1 in favor of legalizing cannabis for recreational use. However, there’s been a bit of a run around within the New Jersey government getting the program off the ground. As of right now, we’re looking to see recreational dispensaries operating by the end of this year.
Before that can happen though, the state has to pass legalization and decriminalization bills. This process was delayed in December of 2020 since Governor Murphy wanted to add additional fines for underage recreational marijuana use and possession. Now it goes back to lawmakers, and if they agree to the changes, both bills could be signed within days.
Once that happens, New Jersey’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission will be appointed to issue regulations within 6 months of the date of the law for every part of the industry – from consumers, to retail stores, to cultivation and distribution. The first recreational sales will most likely occur at the already-existing Alternative Treatment Centers since they’re already registered for medical marijuana sales, and it’ll be quicker for them to meet adult-use regulations that waiting for new stores to open altogether.
Currently, New Jersey allows for medical marijuana patients to have up to 30z of cannabis flower and concentrates and limits the use of marijuana to the following forms:
- and Topicals
There is currently no word yet as to when New Jersey can expect to begin carrying concentrates or edibles.
[Read More The 5 Best Dispensaries in New York in 2020]
New Jersey’s Medical Marijuana Program
New Jersey has had a medical marijuana program for a few years now. To qualify, you must be age 18 or older with a valid state-issued ID, proof of New Jersey residency, and have a doctor’s recommendation for a qualifying condition. A medical marijuana card allows patients to legally purchase up to 3 ounces of cannabis flower or concentrate per month. It protects them from being charged for possession and prohibits employers from firing medical cardholders based on their patient status.
To get started, a qualifying patient must schedule an appointment with a physician, advanced practice nurse, or a physician’s assistant who is licensed to prescribe controlled substances by the DEA. Once the doctor has reviewed the patient’s history and determined that their condition qualifies, patients can register and submit their paperwork to the Department of Health or on the MMP website. Patients are required to include a recent photo, a copy of their state-issued ID, and their registration fee ($20 for seniors, veterans, and those on government assistance, and $100 for all other patients).
Qualifying conditions for medical marijuana in New Jersey include:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease
- Cachexia, or wasting syndrome
- Chronic pain
- Inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease
- Intractable skeletal muscular spasticity
- Multiple sclerosis
- Muscular dystrophy
- Nausea and vomiting
- Opioid use disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Seizure disorder, including epilepsy
- Terminal cancer or illness, if the physician determines the patient has less than 12 months to live
- Tourette syndrome
Possession laws and penalties
Since the recreational laws in New Jersey are still being developed, the current laws are still in place until further notice. They’re pretty extreme, too. So be sure to follow the laws and wait for the recreational stores to open before you begin partaking in recreational cannabis.
- 50g flower or less; Disorderly Person, 6 months incarceration, $1,000 fine.
- More than 50g flower; Crime, 1.5 years incarceration, up to $ 25,000 fine.
- Possession of 5g concentrates or less; Disorderly Person; 6 months incarceration, $1,000 fine.
- Possession of more than 5g concentrates; Crime, 6 months incarceration, $25,000 fine.
- Possession or use of paraphernalia; Disorderly Person, 6 months incarceration, $1,000 fine.
- Within 1000 feet of a school adds 100 hours of community service, as well as an additional fine.
- Less than 1 oz; Crime, 1.5 years incarceration, up to $25,000 fine.
- 1 oz – less than 5 lbs; Crime, 3 – 5 years incarceration, up to $25,000 fine.
- 5 – less than 25 lbs; Crime, 5 – 10 years incarceration, up to $150,000 fine.
- 25 lbs or more; Crime, 10 years minimum incarceration up to 20 years, up to $300,000 fine.
- Within 1000 feet of a school or school bus; Crime, 3 – 5 years incarceration, $150,000 fine.
- 1 oz – less than 5 lbs (less than 10 plants); Crime, 3 – 5 years incarceration, $25,000 fine.
- 5 – less than 25 lbs (10- less than 50 plants); Crime, 5 – 10 years incarceration, $150,000 fine.
- More than 25 lbs (50 plants or more); Crime, 10-20 years incarceration, $300,000 fine.
- Manufacturing, distributing, dispensing, or possessing with intent of less than 5g; Crime, 18 months incarceration, $10,000 fine.
- Manufacturing, distributing, dispensing, or possessing with intent of 5g – less than 1 lb; Crime, 3 years minimum incarceration, up to 5 years, $25,000 fine.
- Manufacturing, distributing, dispensing, or possessing with intent of 1 lb – less than 5 lbs; Crime, 5 years minimum incarceration up to 10 years, $150,000 fine
- Manufacturing, distributing, dispensing, or possessing with intent of 5 lbs or more; Crime, 10 years minimum incarceration, up to 20 years, $300,000 fine.
- Failure to turn over marijuana to a police officer is a misdemeanor.
- Being under the influence of marijuana is a misdemeanor.
- Potential punishment is listed below in Penalty Details.
- If under 17 years old, driving privileges shall be suspended anywhere between 6 months and 2 years.
- To minors or pregnant women carries a double term of imprisonment and fine.
Where to purchase marijuana in New Jersey
The Cannabis Regulatory Commission which already oversees New Jersey’s medical marijuana program decided where cannabis could be sold on January 1st, 2021. The first adult-use dispensaries are predicted to open in “the second or third quarter of 2021, if I’m being somewhat optimistic,” says Edmund DeVeaux, president of New Jersey Cannabusiness Association.
Until then, adults age 18 and older can buy medical marijuana from the Alternative Treatment Centers (ATCs) scattered around New Jersey as long as they have a doctor’s recommendation. Medical patients must pay 4% sales tax, though this law is set to be eliminated in July 2022 when recreational stores are fully operational. Currently, patients and caregivers can only buy up to 3 ounces per month, unless they’re terminally ill or in hospice care. In which case, there is no limit.
Weed events, delivery and smoke shops in Washington DC
If you don’t qualify for medical marijuana in New Jersey and don’t want to wait for rec stores to open later this year, you can always take a short drive to Washington, DC. DC has a unique market that allows you to make an ordinary purchase or cash donation and receive free weed as a gift with your purchase, per the laws detailed in Initiative 71.
Initiative 71 was passed in 2014 and went into effect in 2015, allowing adults over the age of 21 to legally possess and use up to two ounces of marijuana on their private property. However, it doesn’t allow for the direct sale of marijuana, so no dispensaries are operating in DC. Cannabis can be traded or gifted in DC, but never purchased or sold directly.
With that said, Washington DC is the closest legal market to New Jersey. A day trip will give you the chance to visit smoke shops or order cannabis delivery during your stay. You can also rely on 420DC to help you find the most reputable cannabis events, storefronts, and delivery services in the area. You can even check out deals listed by these cannabis trading companies here.
All in all, DC’s legal market is thriving. With recreational cannabis legislation in New Jersey still being a couple of years out, taking a short drive to DC may be just what the doctor ordered. Just be sure to enjoy it all in DC, as traveling out of our city and back into your state is still highly illegal.