An overview of the medical and recreational marijuana laws in New Jersey.
PUBLISHED DECEMBER 23, 2020 - UPDATED AUGUST 25, 2021
In 2010, New Jersey had become the 14th US state to legalize medical marijuana when the Legislature had passed the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (CUMMA). Although it was signed into law soon, the Medical Marijuana Program (MMP) was stalled for up to 2 years before it was finally reopened in August 2012.
Recreational or adult-use cannabis became legal in New Jersey from Jan 1, 2021, after the Marijuana Legalization Amendment was approved by voters during the general elections in November 2020 with 67% voting in favor. Subsequently, the state of New Jersey proposed the constitutional amendment to legalize cannabis for personal, non-medical use by adults aged 21 years and older, subject to regulation by the Cannabis Regulatory Commission. The bill was passed by the legislature on December 17, 2020, and was finally signed into law by Governor Murphy on February 22, 2021. Initial cannabis regulations were released on August 19, 2021, and will empower the Cannabis Regulatory Commission to begin licensing cannabis businesses like cultivators, manufacturers, and retailers. This page is informational only and should not be considered legal advice.
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An overview of the medical and recreational marijuana laws in New Jersey.
New Jersey residents who are at least 21 years of age or older and have a valid government-issued id will be allowed to possess up to 6 ounces of cannabis.
So far, Medical patients were only allowed a purchase limit of 50 g or less and anything above that warranted harsh penalties, but changes will be enacted from Jan 2021, and now an adult can carry up to 170 g of marijuana at any time.
Patients with the following conditions can qualify for medical marijuana use:
Visit the Division of Medical Marijuana for more details.
No, S21 does not allow New Jersey residents to cultivate cannabis at home. The only legal cannabis in the state will be cannabis grown at a state-licensed cultivation facility, and there will remain stiff criminal penalties for home cannabis growers, as before.
Under New Jersey’s state law, cultivation of ten or more marijuana plants is a felony crime, punishable by a $150,000 fine or up to ten years in prison.
New Jersey marijuana users may only consume cannabis in the privacy of their homes.
Everything you need to know about opening a retail cannabis location in New Jersey.
For all new cannabis retail licenses, including medical marijuana, licenses will be awarded by the Cannabis Regulatory Commission.
Residents of New Jersey, aged 21 and above can apply for a business license, either alone or in partnership with someone. In order to open a recreational cannabis dispensary, one must apply for a Class 5 Cannabis Retailer license, issued by the CRC.
The CRC will determine the maximum number of licenses, of which at least 35% shall be conditional licenses and at least 10% of the total number of licenses shall be issued to microbusinesses
However, social equity considerations have been taken into account by introducing exclusive business incentives for disproportionately impacted communities, and 30% of all legal cannabis licenses will be awarded to businesses owned by women, minorities, or disabled veterans.
For the first 18 months, no business will be allowed to have both cultivation and retail cannabis licenses. There will be additional restrictions against vertical integration that will prevent the formation of possible monopolies.
An existing medical cannabis operator could begin adult-use sales immediately after rules are issued – but only if the company can prove it has sufficient supply to meet medical marijuana demand, which must be prioritized.
The newly formed Cannabis Regulatory Commission has up to 180 days to come out with its regulations after the enactment of the law. The commission would begin accepting and processing applications for licenses and conditional licenses within 30 days after the commission's initial rules and regulations have been adopted.
Permanent license: If approved, a license would be issued by the commission not later than 30 days after a notice of approval has been given, unless the applicant is found to not be in compliance with relevant regulations or local regulating ordinances applicable to their business operations. An issued license would expire after one year but could be renewed following submission of a new application, in which the applicant would detail aspects of the cannabis licensee's operations and on-going compliance measures as part of the renewal process.
Conditional license: The applicant would not need to be in compliance with every aspect of the regulatory requirements expected for full licensure in order to obtain a conditional license, but would need to provide sufficient plans for actions to be taken to eventually achieve compliance for full licensure. During a 120-day period following issuance of the conditional license, if it is determined that the conditional licensee is in compliance with all plans to achieve full licensure, it would replace the conditional license with a full, annual license, dated to expire one year from its date of issuance, otherwise, the conditional license would expire after the 120 days period.
The CRC would determine the maximum number of licenses for each class based on market demand. Watch this space for more details on the application process, as and when CRC updates them on its website.
The social equity rules in NJ establish three types of cannabis businesses that will receive priority review and approval in the application process:
• Social Equity Businesses, which are owned by people who have lived in economically disadvantaged areas of the state or who have past convictions for cannabis offenses.
• Diversely Owned Businesses, which are minority-owned, woman-owned, or disabled veteran-owned and certified as such by the New Jersey Department of the Treasury in one or more of the listed categories.
• Impact Zone Businesses, which are located in an Impact Zone, owned by people from Impact Zones, or employ residents of Impact Zones.
Note: Under the statute, Impact Zones are municipalities with a large population, high unemployment rate, or high numbers of crime or arrests for marijuana.
Learn how to remain compliant with New Jersey’s cannabis retail laws.
Each municipality has its own laws and regulations regarding this, and although the state of New Jersey has legalized recreational cannabis, municipalities are allowed to implement the law as they please. So read up more on your region-specific regulations before deciding on a location.
Licensed adult-use marijuana retailers may sell cannabis to adults aged 21 and older, with a valid government-issued identification card, and employees are required to check purchasers’ IDs before making the sale.
Marijuana stores may sell cannabis, cannabis resin, cannabis products and cannabis extracts, but seedlings, immature marijuana plants and marijuana paraphernalia are prohibited.
All cannabis items will be packaged in fully enclosed child-resistant packaging and will be labeled with information and any warnings required by law, a summary of the product testing results, any ingredients used in cultivation or production of the cannabis item, and the serving size. For cannabis flower, in addition to the potency from the test results, labels will note whether the flower is high-, moderate-, or low-THC and whether it is high-, moderate-, or low-CBD, consistent with its chemotype.
Labels will contain health warnings for consumers urging them to avoid driving or operating heavy machinery while using cannabis, potentially avoid use altogether when pregnant or breastfeeding, and will note that
high potency products may present risks to mental health.
Packaging and labeling will be prohibited from containing any false or misleading statements, or any imagery that could be attractive to kids, and once established, will contain a universal warning symbol designated by the Commission.
Yes, medical dispensaries can sell adult-use cannabis, but only if they have enough stock to meet medical marijuana demand. But, Marijuana retail stores can not operate as medical marijuana dispensaries.
Adult-use sales would be taxed at 7%. Municipalities could charge local sales taxes of up to 2%.
The CRC also could levy a small “social equity excise fee” on marijuana growers that would fluctuate depending on the average retail price of cannabis.
Learn more about the cost of opening a dispensary in NJ.
Yes, delivery of medical marijuana to patients in New Jersey is permitted, but the health department requires anyone delivering cannabis to have a GPS tracking system on their vehicles. Home delivery of recreational cannabis will be allowed as well, but retailers must seek permission from local municipalities for the same.
Businesses providing courier services to a licensed cannabis retailer must apply for an exclusive Cannabis Delivery license in order to make deliveries of cannabis items and related supplies to a consumer.
Retailer licensees can start sales of cannabis items on any date after the date that the Cannabis Regulatory Commission adopts its initial rules and regulations. Retailers can legally sell to persons 21 years of age or older, so long as the municipality in which it is located is engaged in retail sales.
Prior to and during this transition phase leading up to eventual retail sales of cannabis items, every municipality would have the option to authorize and regulate the times of operation, place, manner, and number of licensed cannabis businesses operating within its jurisdiction, in a manner consistent with the bill's regulation of such businesses.
More details to come.
Cannabis businesses will be allowed to advertise, but with significant restrictions. Advertising will be restricted to mediums where the audience is determined to be primarily over the age of 21. TV and radio ads will only be allowed between 10:00 PM and 6:00 AM, and advertisers will be restricted from promoting overconsumption or making any claims not supported by credible research.
Every regulated cannabis market has its own tracking and reporting requirements. Find here how New Jersey monitors commercial cannabis activity.
Most states require dispensaries and cannabis stores to track and trace all of their cannabis products for regulatory and compliance reporting requirements. Records identifying the source of each ingredient must include the date of receipt of the ingredient, vendor’s name and address, name of the ingredient, etc. The vendor’s batch number, lot number of the product and control number used to identify all components in the marijuana product(s), as well as the grade and quantity must be mentioned in inventory reports.
New Jersey has not appointed an official cannabis monitoring system yet, and both Metrc and Bio-track are currently vying for this coveted partnership.
Yes, Cova's Cannabis Dispensary POS Software and inventory management system includes all the features needed to keep cannabis retailers compliant, including:
Complete the form to get a free consultation and personalized demo.