Changes to medical marijuana in NJ earlier this year mean that many more people will be able to enroll. The most significant difference is that now, individuals with issues such as certain types of chronic pain, migraines, anxiety, and Tourette’s syndrome may be eligible. Here is some information about the changes and how they may affect you.
Qualifying medical conditions for medical marijuana in NJ
The qualifying medical conditions that were in effect before the change included:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Terminal cancer
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Muscular dystrophy
- Seizure disorders
- Certain types of chronic pain
- Severe nausea or vomiting caused by HIV
- Any terminal illness with a prognosis of 12 months or less
In addition, these conditions may now also qualify you for medical marijuana:
- Tourette’s syndrome
- Chronic pain related to rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, and opioid use disorder
How to get approved for medical marijuana in NJ
You will need to obtain a recommendation from your doctor and apply to the state. Upon approval, you will receive a card showing your enrollment in the program. To start the process, ask your regular doctor whether cannabis might help improve your symptoms. Any doctor can now recommend marijuana (before this year, you were limited to a list of approved doctors). However, not all doctors choose to participate in the program. If yours doesn’t, you can still find one on the public registry. The physician must meet specific criteria such as treating the patient for at least one year (seeing them at least four times) and conducting a comprehensive review of the patient’s file.
How much does it cost?
Medical marijuana is not covered by your healthcare policy. Prices can vary somewhat but expect to pay around $500 for an ounce (not including tax). The maximum amount allowed by law is currently two ounces per month. It is typically packaged in 1/8 or ¼ ounce denominations.
Where to buy medical marijuana in NJ
There are six medical marijuana dispensaries throughout New Jersey including those in Egg Harbor, Montclair, Cranbury, Woodbridge, Bellmawr, and Secaucus. There are plans for satellite locations as well as new dispensaries to open, but it isn’t clear when this will happen. All dispensaries sell a variety of smokable strains; some also offer oils and topical products.
Keep in mind that the law on medical marijuana does not offer workplace protections. That means that you may still lose your job should you fail a drug test at work – even though you have been approved for medical marijuana. Some patients have sued to regain their jobs after being fired, and most of these have lost. That’s because, under federal law, marijuana remains an illegal drug, and employers have the right to terminate employees who use it.
Also, growing your marijuana remains illegal. You may only obtain your products from an approved dispensary. There are no home delivery options, either, although these are being explored. For now, patients who need medical marijuana must bring their cards to an approved dispensary and buy the drugs in person.
For more information, contact Redefine Healthcare or see the New Jersey Health Department website.