With broad legalization not likely to reach New Jersey this year, Gov. Phil Murphy is moving forward with plans to expand the state’s medical cannabis program via executive order. The new rules, announced by the Department of Health, include changes to fee and permitting structures and the addition of new products.
The changes codify some rules that were already in effect but were temporary, including: halving the registration fees for patients and caregivers from $200 to $100; reducing the registration fees for military veterans and seniors to $20; allowing physicians to opt-out of the public list of medical cannabis providers and allowing the sale of vape pens.
The order also keeps post-traumatic stress disorder anxiety, chronic pain of visceral origin, chronic pain related to musculoskeletal disorders, migraines, Tourette syndrome, and Opioid Use Disorder on the list of qualifying conditions.
The new rules remove previous requirements for qualifying condition petitions to be first approved by the Medicinal Marijuana Review Panel, and for children to undergo a psychiatric evaluation before being registered with the program.
“These rules solidify key program reforms to ensure greater patient access to this effective therapy. With these changes, the Department will be able to add conditions more rapidly, remove barriers for minors and increase supply of product available.” — Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal, in a statement
Notably, the order creates separate permit systems for cultivation, manufacturing, and dispensing, in an effort to increase the available supply of cannabis for qualified patients and allow “specialization in the market.”
Murphy included recreational legalization in his campaign platform; however, Democratic-led Senate President Stephen Sweeney tabled the measure after not finding the 21 votes needed to pass the chamber. Murphy said in April that he would expand the medical cannabis program in the event that lawmakers could not come to an agreement.