Health department tweaks medical marijuana rules, ‘to ensure greater patient access’

The New Jersey Department of Health announced amended medical marijuana rules Monday, to codify existing and new rules together.

The rules changes are a result of a directive from Gov. Phil Murphy, Executive Order 6, which called for a review of the program by the department.

The program has more than doubled the number of participating patients since Murphy’s administration has taken charge, and the allowed uses for medical marijuana have also expanded.

“These rules solidify key program reforms to ensure greater patient access to this effective therapy,” said Commissioner Shereef Elnahal. “With these changes, the department will be able to add conditions more rapidly, remove barriers for minors and increase supply of product available.”

Changes to existing rules include:

  • Reducing the registration fee for qualifying patients and their caregivers from $200 to $100.
  • Adding seniors and military veterans to those eligible for the reduced registration fee of $20.
  • Authorizing qualifying patients to designate up to two primary caregivers instead of just one.
  • Reflecting the addition of seven “debilitating medical conditions,” including post-traumatic stress disorder, and six new conditions, including anxiety and chronic pain.
  • Allowing physicians to opt out of inclusion on a public list of participating physicians.
  • Elevating the Medicinal Marijuana Program to division status within the Department of Health.
  • Expanding the forms of medical marijuana available in New Jersey to include oil-based formulations, like vape cartridges.

New rules include:

  • Creating a separate permitting system for cultivation, manufacturing and dispensing marijuana for medical purposes, which would increase the available supply of, and patient access to, usable marijuana and allow for specialization in the market.
  • Streamlining the process to petition for the addition of “debilitating medical conditions” by removing the requirement that petitions first be referred to the Medicinal Marijuana Review Panel.
  • Emphasizing the advisory role of the Medicinal Marijuana Review Panel to include the provision of guidance and recommendations to the health commissioner regarding the medical use of marijuana.
  • Removing the requirement of psychiatric evaluation as a condition of physician certification of minors as qualifying patients.