New Jersey’s medical marijuana program may soon be expanding as the NJ Department of Health is reportedly considering submissions based on new medical conditions which would qualify patients to obtain medical marijuana. Currently, you can go to the New Jersey Health Department website and download a form that you can fill out and submit regarding medical conditions you believe should be included for consideration for medicinal marijuana. There are strict deadlines for submitting these forms: it must be done through certified mail between August 1 and August 31, 2016. A medical review panel will then consider the medical marijuana submissions and make recommendations to the Health Department about whether the requested conditions should be included. This is a major decision because it marks the first time that the State of New Jersey has officially asked for public input since the medical marijuana program first launched in 2010.
Medical Marijuana as a Treatment for Certain Chronic Health Conditions
Although most people caught with marijuana in New Jersey can be charged with a drug crime, there are certain exceptions carved out in the law for individuals with certain chronic health conditions. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is not currently listed as a medical condition that qualifies an applicant for medical marijuana. However, state legislators in Trenton NJ have attempted on multiple occasions to get PTSD added to the list of medical conditions that can be legally treated with medical marijuana. The medical conditions that are presently treatable by medical marijuana in New Jersey include the following:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Terminal cancer
- Lou Gehrig’s disease
- Muscular dystrophy
- Inflammatory bowel disease (including Crohn’s disease)
- Any other terminal illness
Patients suffering from health problems and who have already tried conventional treatment that simply hasn’t been effective may also qualify – so long as they suffer from a seizure disorder (such as epilepsy) or glaucoma. People with HIV/AIDS and cancer may qualify for medical marijuana if their existing treatment plans have caused severe or chronic pain, severe nausea or vomiting.
According to NJ.com, there are currently 8,162 patients registered with the NJ medical marijuana program. There are also reportedly 472 caregivers with the New Jersey medical marijuana program. Caregivers are people who have passed official background checks and who are cleared to pick up marijuana at a registered medical pot dispensary. The caregiver is then legally allowed to deliver the marijuana to a patient.
It is important to realize that a caregiver who is not properly licensed and approved in New Jersey can be charged with a criminal offense for simple possession of marijuana and even distribution of marijuana. If you are charged with marijuana distribution, or possession with intent to distribute marijuana, you face significant time in prison because the criminal charge is classified as a felony-level offense.
There are currently just five legally authorized dispensaries in New Jersey, with a sixth medical marijuana dispensary scheduled to open in Secaucus NJ later this year. The remaining five medical marijuana dispensaries are located in Montclair, Woodbridge, Cranbury, Bellmawr, and Egg Harbor.