NJ Approves 2 More Alternative Treatment Centers!

Check Out Our Guide To All 12

The state of New Jersey has just approved additional licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries!

  • Garden State Dispensary slated to open its 2nd satellite location in Eatontown.
  • Curaleaf slated to open 2nd location in Bordentown sometime in 2021.
  • TerrAscend (Phillipsburg), MPX NJ (Atlantic City), and Harmony (Hoboken) all to open new locations in NJ late 2020/early 2021
News of this expansion is certainly welcomed and a huge win for patients and advocates all across the state of New Jersey! Despite having made solid progress in expanding its medical marijuana program, it has not been without significant delays and problems.
How Did The Program Start?
Believe it or not, medical marijuana has been legal in the state of New Jersey since 2010. It was actually one of the first states to legalize cannabis for medical use on the East Coast and its relevance and importance to the industry and movement is just as significant today as it was back then.
Lawmakers in the state of New Jersey approved Senate Bill 119 on January 11th, 2010 by an overwhelming majority in both the House and Senate. It was then signed into law by Governor Jon Corzine on January 18th, 2010.
Despite being approved, the initial rollout was delayed by incoming governor Chris Christie because he felt the program needed to be reviewed and more time would be needed to properly craft the regulations.
What Changes Were Made?
By the time the program was finalized and ready to begin opening dispensaries (Alternative Treatment Centers), there were several notable changes made to the regulations. They are as follows:
  • Changes to the licensing process for both distributors and cultivators
  • Made home delivery of medication illegal all across the state.
  • The final change, and it was a big one, required the physician issuing the recommendation to certify that traditional methods of treatment had been attempted and failed the patient in question. While it may seem like a small, necessary step, it is just another way to delay sick people from getting the pain relief they desperately need.

Patients, physicians, primary caregivers and those licensed to cultivate and distribute medical marijuana are immune from prosecution, property forfeiture, as well as any type of criminal arrest (this applies to action taken by the state only, the federal government can and does still interfere with state programs)

The initial rollout of the program was to include 6 licenses for vertically integrated businesses, meaning that each license holder was responsible for cultivation, processing and sales of their own cannabis.

When Did The Program ACTUALLY Start?

The medical marijuana program began patient registration on August 9th, 2012. The first dispensary sale took place on December 6th, 2012.

What About the Expansion?
After a cautious rollout of the first six approved businesses, the State Department of Health planned on licensing up to 24 additional licenses, 15 of which are reserved for retail dispensaries, 5 reserved for cultivation and 4 reserved for vertically integrated businesses.
A vertically integrated business means that they control every aspect of the process from cultivation to processing and sales. Advocates and potential license holders have been excited at the prospect of joining this historic expansion, but that process was stalled and has been on hold in the court system since late last year.
It is important to note that the response during the open application period was overwhelming, with more than 190 people competing for just 24 licenses. One thing that was clear from the start was that the majority of applicants were not going to make the cut and some people were going to be upset.

What Caused The Delay?

Last summer the state closed the window to apply for the newest round of licenses on August 22nd, and began the review process soon after, however it quickly devolved into a legal quagmire that is just now beginning to resolve itself. According to the Department of Health, some kind of technical glitch caused nine applicants to be disqualified.

Soon after finding out that their applications had been rejected, the potential license holders sued the state in an effort to correct the mistake that led to their disqualification. Part of the application process included submitting key documents for verification by the Department of Health, and it was this part of the process that caused the problem.

9 out of the 150 applicants submitted documents in the form of PDF's, which the Department Of Health was unable to open due to a technical glitch. As a result. the applications involved were considered incomplete and therefore disqualified. Something worth mentioning here is that a total of 51 applicants were disqualified for a host of reasons, but the 9 listed in the lawsuit are directly related to technical glitches with the documents.

It is unfortunate, but the truth is you have to have all your ducks in a row when you are doing something this important. For some reason this technical glitch did not affect the other 140 applicants, so it is pretty unfortunate that the result of all this was a more than year long delay in the expansion of the medical program.

What Is The Status Now?

As of right now, there is no clear indication when the courts will allow New Jersey to continue the expansion of its medical program, which is very unfortunate for the sickest patients in the state.

The silver lining here is that adult-use (recreational cannabis) has been successfully added to the ballot and will be up for a vote in the upcoming November election.

According to the most recent data and polls, advocated and pro-cannabis lawmakers can expect the ballot initiative to pass with overwhelming support. Hopefully, the residents of New Jersey will be heard and Governor Phil Murphy will finally be able to make good on his biggest campaign promise.

Where Can I Find An Alternative Treatment Center In NJ Today?

Below is a complete list of every alternative treatment center in operation today. If you are already registered with the state's MMP program, you can head over to your closest location and purchase the medicine you need. However, due to the limited amount of locations and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is highly recommended that you all ahead to make sure that cannabis is in stock (some locations have been reporting multi-hour long waits to get inside the shops.

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