NJ’s medical program is headed down a better path, with changes that were furthered in the Assembly on April 5th, and are likely to advance by this coming May.
Internal rumblings speculate that Medical ATCs are expected to be released around Labor Day.
The Synopsis of the Assembly Committee Substitute for Bill 3421 notes that the new legislation namely does the following:
- Expands access to edible forms of medical marijuana
- Removes limits on the amount of medical marijuana that may be dispensed to certain patients
- Expands qualifying conditions
- Revises requirements for receiving treatment
Digging even deeper into the bill, here are a few of our notes, detailing some of the most anticipated aspects of program expansion:
- Medical Dispensaries will be allowed to deliver product to patients.
- Requires further clarification to know if ATCs must extend this service from in-house or if third party services will be allowed via a separate approval process. Transport is not specified as a permit type.
- The list of qualifying conditions is further expanded to include: anxiety, migraines, tourettes, chronic pain, “or any other medical condition or its treatment that is approved by the Department of Health.”
- This specification gives doctors greater latitude to recommend medical marijuana to patients, since chronic pain is what we consider to be an umbrella condition that could by default include a variety of others.
REQUIREMENTS FOR PHYSICIANS
- Eliminates the need for physicians to enroll in any registry or undergo any additional process prior to being able to recommend medical marijuana use to patients. In other words, it you’re a physician who can write traditional scripts, you can also now recommend medical marijuana.
- Allows a physician to certify an adult for up to one full year, and a minor for up to 90 days. This is in contrast to the current rules that require patients to visit their doctor every 30, 60, or 90 days at their doctor’s discretion, in order to keep their patient card in active standing.
PRODUCTS / DELIVERY METHODS
- Allows for all forms of product and delivery methods, opening the market for edibles and other product innovations that were previously disallowed
- Increased patient purchase limit to 4 ounce flower equivalent allowed every 30 days, which is twice the current limit
CURRENT VERTICAL ATCs
- Takes the current ATC license and splits it into two: cultivator/processor and dispensary. Pennsylvania also divided their permits this way.
- Current ATCs are authorized to maintain both of their new permit types, grandfathering their current vertical operations under two new titles.
ADDITIONAL ATC PERMITS / EXPANSION PHASES
- Authorized up to a total of 15 cultivator/processors, evenly distributed between the South, Central, and Northern regions
• South includes Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester & Salem Counties
• Central includes Hunterdon, Middlesex, Mercer, Monmouth, Ocean, Somerset & Union Counties
• North includes Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Passaic, Sussex & Warren Counties
- Authorizes up to 98 total medical dispensaries, of which 18 are reserved for existing ATCs who will be permitted to have up to 3 locations each
- Dispensary locations will be determined by legislative district. NJ has 40 electoral districts. so every district qualifies for at least one dispensary.
• It’s worth noting that this language indicates that local towns may not have the option to opt-out for medical like they can for adult-use, unless Municipal support is later required as part of the application process, as they did in Massachusetts.
- Alludes to a Phase 3 – Determined by patient needs, there will be an additional 3 cultivator/processor permits and another 40 dispensary permits issued, on top of the already expanded program. This will not materialize earlier than 2 years after the effective date of the bill. This detail mimics Pennsylvania’s decision to proactively plan for their Phase 2 Expansion when they rolled out Phase 1, acknowledging that patient count and product demand should dictate the size of the state’s program.
- It is unclear whether vertical integration will be explicitly banned in effect, since Amended Section 7a states that “no person or entity shall hold an interest in more than one cultivator/processor or more than one dispensary, at any time.” Because of the placement of the word “or,” it’s unclear as to whether a person or entity could technically have ownership in one of each.
APPLICATION PROCESS FOR NEW PERMITS
- Specifies a point system for a competitive, merit-based application process
- Only those providing $100,000+ in financial backing will be required to submit a personal history / financial disclosure (still requires background checks)
- If you’ve been convicted for possession of any controlled dangerous substance, EXCEPT 50 grams or less of marijuana or 5g or less of hashish, you are disqualified from applying and/or working as a facility employee. Those with convictions for under the respective 50g/5g limits can technically still apply.
- Any other convictions do not immediately DQ you if you can prove that you have “affirmatively demonstrated to the commissioner clear and convincing evidence of rehabilitation,” which is further defined. (Includes 8 subjective parameters within which to make their judgement)
- Additional permits will be issued no later than 90 days after the effective date of the bill.
- The term “effective date” allows for some cushion in timeline, since the effective date can be named, and is not automatically defined by any specific moment in the process. So for instance, the Governor could sign the bill, and then the effective date could be defined as 1 month after signing.
SALE / TRANSFER / SCALING
- You can sell/transfer a license, with approval, for a fee of $150,000, paid to the state.
- Existing non-profit entities can pivot to become for-profit ventures for a one time fee of $300,000, paid to the state.
- Once licensed, existing cultivator/processor and dispensaries can move locations within the same county, with prior approval.
- BIG DEAL: Cultivator/Processor permit holders can operate from more than one location with prior permission from the Department. Pending approval of each additional location, this in theory allows for unlimited expansion for said parties.
DISCREPANCIES / NOTES REQUIRING CLARIFICATION
- When referencing timelines, Section 4b notes that six cultivation-processor permits and 40 dispensary permits will be issued no later than 90 days after the effective date of the bill. Section 7 notes the same timeline but mentions they will be accepting three additional cultivator-processors and 40 dispensaries. The mention of three is likely a typo that incurred as a result of the mash-up of previous bills and language.
- When naming additional qualifying conditions, the language, “or any other medical condition or its treatment that is approved by the Department of Health,” implies that the process of adding additional conditions thereafter may be more streamlined, subject to approval directly by the Department of Health, and not by the Medical Marijuana Advisory Board.
- It remains unclear as to whether Nurse Practitioners are grouped in with “physicians” when it comes to being permitted to recommend medical marijuana for patient use.
- As mentioned above under Timelines, the term “effective date” allows for some cushion in timeline, since the effective date can be named, and is not automatically defined by any specific moment in the process. So for instance, the Governor could sign the bill, and then the effective date could be defined as 1 month after signing.
- As mentioned above under Additional Permits, it is unclear whether vertical integration will be explicitly banned in effect, since Amended Section 7a states that “no person or entity shall hold an interest in more than one cultivator/processor or more than one dispensary, at any time.” Because of the placement of the word “or,” it’s unclear as to whether a person or entity could technically have ownership in one of each.
- As mentioned above under Product Delivery, further clarification is required to determine whether dispensaries must extend delivery services from in-house or if third party services will be allowed via a separate approval process. Transport is not specified as a permit type.
*Should any of these items be further defined or clarified by authorized parties, we will make adjustments to this post accordingly.