June 24, 2021

New Jersey Cannabis Legalization

With the effect of question 1 that was passed with 67% approval, now allowing cannabis for both medical use and recreational use is legal in New Jersey. But what remains a mystery is that cannabis remains illegal. In this article, we will be discussing what the use and possession of cannabis mean in New Jersey. Before that, let's look briefly into the numbers of dispensaries available in New Jersey, and when will these dispensaries really open for recreational and medical use?

How Many Dispensaries Are Available in New Jersey Right Now?

More than a dozen medical marijuana dispensaries are officially open in New Jersey. As passed by state voters in 2020, the state seeks to enact legislation to broaden recreational cannabis sales. The Phillipsburg Apothecarium Dispensary, which also has dispensaries in Pennsylvania, California, and Nevada, is the first New Jersey site for Canadian-based Terrascend.

State lawmakers have been working on legislation detailing the use of cannabis for adults for recreational use, as ballot question 1 was easily passed in early November.

The first dispensaries likely to get a chance to sell for recreational use are the 13 dispensaries already open nationwide, based on other states' models, including Massachusetts.

When Will Those Dispensaries Open for Recreational Use?

A timetable of deadlines that the state must comply with is set for most states that go through this process. The significant objectives typically set are: when guidelines are finalized, when applications begin to be accepted, and when licenses need to be released. While this roadmap is sometimes off or delayed, it is also a decent projection of how quickly or slowly a state can step forward on legalization.

New Jersey has set no timetable, and many are worried about its lack of guidance. The fact that limits are not even set for possession does not give the best massage. The Cannabis Regulatory Commission will approve future dispensaries. Although there is no restriction on the number of storefronts, the law does state that the commission will only grant 37 new licenses to grow marijuana within the first two years of legalization.

This might restrict the quantity of cannabis first available to clients and determine the number of dispensaries needed.

What are the latest New Jersey cannabis laws?

In 2010,  the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (CAMMA), which originated as a senate bill, permits cannabis purchases from state-licensed alternative treatment facilities for patients with qualifying conditions and caregivers. It does not, however, permit patients to cultivate their own cannabis. Under CAMA, only six alternative treatment facilities can be approved at any one time to sell cannabis and must be non-profit centers.

In contrast to laws in other jurisdictions, New Jersey's medicinal cannabis law is stringent. The regulations surrounding which patients qualify for medicinal cannabis use have been loosened since 2010, however. In 2013, then-Governor Chris Christie signed into law a bill, known as "Pot for Tots," that allows medicinal cannabis to be used by children with certain conditions. Christie also signed a bill in 2016 to add PTSD to the list of conditions for eligibility. Christie was against the medicinal cannabis policy and other cannabis-related reforms, even though he signed both of these measures.

Generally, this legalization allows possession of up to six ounces of cannabis legal. The decriminalization bill will come with more amendments, but it will not make it legal to grow your own marijuana at home either.

Can You Lose Your Job If You Take Cannabis in New Jersey?

The bill forbids an employer from dismissing or refusing to hire a person in their spare time who uses marijuana. But it allows employers with "reasonable suspicion" that a worker has gotten high at work to screen them for drugs and potentially fire or punish them if tests indicate that they are high.

No commonly used and approved physical marijuana drug tests will detect intoxication in real-time. Instead, the presence of marijuana in the body is highlighted, often days or weeks after a person's last use.

The bill also requires an employer to conduct random, routine, or pre-employment screening. Still, it must include a "scientifically reliable" blood, urine, or saliva test combined with a physical assessment to ascertain if the employee is actually disabled, as well as a physical evaluation by an employee who is being trained to detect marijuana impairment.


As it stands, many stigmas still come with the cannabis industry in New Jersey, as it has been an illicit substance for too long, while cannabis is becoming more accepted in society, shown by the passage of legislation on legality and the development of the industry.

Overcoming this stigma, particularly when it comes to large-scale marketing campaigns, employer drug testing, family conversations, etc., will continue to be a challenge as the drug is increasingly embraced by society.

It is important to be on top of the ever-changing laws for everyone involved in the cannabis industry and put themselves in a position to adapt to them easily.

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