New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has promised to sign the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act into law at a ceremony in Freehold tomorrow.
The law brings together Assembly Bill 3421 and its counterpart, Senate Bill 1955, and is named after a seven-year-old boy who tragically died of cancer.
The bill removes certain restrictions around access to medical marijuana in order to reduce the suffering experienced by New Jersey patients like Honig. His family will join Murphy for the signing.
It will see New Jersey’s medical marijuana market opened up significantly, as the state plans to hand out 108 extra licenses to cannabis businesses. Right now there are just 12 vertically integrated licensees in the state and only half are currently operational. The new system will dish out 54 dispensary licenses, 30 processing permits, and 24 cultivation licenses, spread across the state.
The 12 firms already licensed to operate in New Jersey are permitted to apply for the new licenses too if they wish to boost their footprint in the state.
“We must continue to knock down barriers so that this life-changing medical treatment is affordable and accessible,” said Murphy, who is a long-standing champion of the cannabis industry.
Businesses can now apply for new licenses, which are referred to as Alternative Treatment Centers. The New Jersey Department of Health said patients in the state simply cannot wait any longer for accessible, affordable therapy, and this stance marks a major victory for cannabis campaigners.
Murphy and his fellow marijuana advocates tried to legalize recreational cannabis use in the Garden State this year, but the bill died in the Senate as they could not garner enough support from colleagues. A clash over a tax incentive program ultimately scuppered the plans, and lawmakers are now planning to put adult-use marijuana legalization to a public ballot next year instead.
Another bill has sought to decriminalize marijuana use and expunge criminal records of anyone previously found guilty of cannabis possession.