The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (CUMMA) & its Medical Marijuana Program (MMP) allows access to medical marijuana for the health and welfare of New Jersey citizens. Together, CUMMA and its MMP set up the framework to implement the medical use of marijuana.
New Jersey's Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act ("the Act") covers everything from explaining how New Jersey may lawfully establish an MMP even though marijuana remains illegal under Federal Law to who and how to qualify and participate. Some key aspects of the Act:
- A qualifying patient must be a resident of New Jersey, who has certification by a physician.
- The physician and qualifying patient must have a bonafide relationship, meaning the patient cannot simply go to the physician solely for participation in the MMP.
- You must have your registry identification card whenever in possession of medicinal marijuana.
- A registry identification card is valid for two (2) years from its effective date unless the registry identification card is revoked or surrendered.
If you are a resident of New Jersey and have questions about medical marijuana, contact Leaf Legal, P.C. Their lawyers have the resources and knowledge to help you with any questions you may have.
Alternative Treatment Centers, Rules & Compliance
An alternative treatment center (ATC) is a place to lawfully obtain medicinal marijuana. The Department must maintain a confidential list of the persons to whom it issues registry identification (MMP) cards and this list is not considered a public record.
Each alternative treatment center is required to develop, implement and maintain on the premises an operations manual. At an ATC, there is no marijuana and/or alcohol use, and food and beverages cannot be consumed in the ATC. Sales of food, beverages, alcohol, or tobacco on the premises of an ATC is also prohibited. Entry onto the premises of an ATC by a person who is under the age of 18 is prohibited unless he or she is a registered, qualifying patient accompanied by his or her primary caregiver and both are in possession of a registry identification card.
Alcohol & Drug-Free Policy
An ATC is legally mandated to establish, implement, and adhere to a written alcohol, drug-free and smoke-free workplace policy. The policy must include these two things:
- A clause advising the policy does not apply if a qualifying patient fails the drug test solely because of the presence of marijuana.
- Assistance opportunities for an employee with a substance abuse problem, requiring the Alternative Treatment Center to maintain a contract with an approved New Jersey employee assistance program.
There are a number of things ATCs must implement in order to be in compliance with security requirements. These requirements include:
- Each ATC must provide effective controls and procedures to guard against theft and diversion of marijuana including, when appropriate, systems to protect against electronic records tampering.
- At a minimum, each ATC must install and operate a safety and security alarm system in good working order 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- ATCs must keep the outside areas well-lit.
- ATCs must keep access from outside the premises to a minimum and ensure that access is well controlled.
- ATCs must also equip interior and exterior premises with electronic monitoring, video cameras and panic buttons. Specifically, it is required that a video surveillance system be installed and operated to clearly monitor all critical control activities of the ATC are in working order and operating at all times.
- ATCS must limit entry into areas -- where marijuana is held -- to authorized personnel and provide onsite parking.
Each ATC must conduct an initial comprehensive inventory of all medicinal marijuana. ATCs must have inventory controls and procedures for the conduct of inventory reviews and comprehensive inventories of cultivating, stored, usable and unusable marijuana. A comprehensive annual inventory must be conducted at least once every year from the date of the previous comprehensive inventory.
ATCs must maintain records identifying the source of each ingredient used in the manufacture or processing of marijuana. Records identifying the source of each ingredient shall include the date of receipt of the ingredient, vendor's name and address, the name of the ingredient and the vendor's batch number, lot number and control number or other identifying symbol, if any, used by the vendor to identify the ingredient, as well as the grade and quantity of said ingredient.
An ATC is required to maintain a system of recordkeeping that will permit the identification for purposes of recall of any lot or batch of medicinal marijuana from registered qualifying patients when such is found to be unsafe for use.
Cultivation of marijuana
All cultivation of marijuana is required to take place in an enclosed, locked facility. Access to the enclosed, locked facility is limited. An ATC must produce marijuana only at the indoor cultivation site and area authorized in the permit.
Storage of marijuana
An ATC is required to limit access to medicinal marijuana storage areas to the absolute minimum number of specifically authorized employees. Each alternative treatment center shall ensure that the storage of usable marijuana prepared for dispensing to patients is in a locked area with adequate security.
An ATC may cultivate no more than three strains of medicinal marijuana. Strains of marijuana authorized for cultivation shall be labeled as one of the following strengths: low, medium or high.
Processing & Packaging of Marijuana
An ATC is required to process marijuana in a safe and sanitary manner to protect registered qualifying patients from adulterated marijuana and is required to process the dried leaves and flowers of the female marijuana plant only.
Each ATC must place a legible, firmly affixed label each package of medicinal marijuana it prepares to dispense. The label must include:
- The name and address of the ATC that produced the medicinal marijuana.
- The quantity of the medicinal marijuana contained within the package.
- The date that the ATC packaged the content.
- A sequential serial number, lot number and barcode to identify lot associated with manufacturing and processing.
- Whether the medicinal marijuana is of the low, medium or high strength strain.
- A statement that the product is for medical use by a qualifying patient and not for resale.
- A list of any other ingredients besides medicinal marijuana contained within the package.
Pesticides & Organic Marijuana
There are no pesticides authorized for use on marijuana, and the unauthorized application of pesticides is unlawful. Marijuana for medical use may be labeled “organic” if the registered dispensary is certified as being in compliance with the United States Department of Agriculture certification requirements applying to organic products.
Marketing & Advertisement
For marketing and advertisement purposes, there are some rules ATCs must follow.
- An ATC can use black text on a white background for external signage, labeling, and brochures for the alternative treatment center.
- ATC signage cannot be illuminated at any time.
- ATCs are not allowed to display advertisements for medicinal marijuana or a brand name except for purposes of identifying the building by the permitted name.
- Marijuana and paraphernalia may not be displayed or clearly visible to a person from outside the ATC.
When a permit application is approved and an ATC is ready for operation, representatives of the Department or any other State agency, as applicable, must conduct an inspection to determine if the facility complies with applicable laws and rules.
An ATC is subject to onsite assessment by the Department at any time. The Department may enter an ATC without notice to carry out an onsite assessment. All ATCs are required to provide the Department or the Department's designee immediate access to any material and information.
To ensure the safety of registered qualifying patients, ATCs are required to provide samples to the Department during announced and unannounced inspections for product quality control.
Medical Marijuana Program Reporting Requirements
There are a number of reporting requirements if practitioners, patients, caregivers, and ATCs want to remain in compliance. Below is an overview of what this means for each of these stakeholders.
A physician is required to report a change in the status of a qualifying patient's medical condition that may affect the continued eligibility of that patient as a qualifying patient within 10 days of such change.
Certified Patients & Caregivers
A qualifying patient and caregiver must notify the Department of any change in his or her name, address, alternative treatment center or physician within 10 days of such change.
A qualifying patient or primary caregiver must notify the Department of the theft, loss or destruction of his or her registry identification card within 24 hours after the discovery of the occurrence of the theft, loss or destruction.
Alternative Treatment Center
Alternative Treatment Centers are mandated to collect and submit the number of registered qualified patients and registered primary caregivers, the medical conditions of qualified patients, patient demographic data along with program costs, a summary of the patient surveys, and evaluation of services to the Department for each calendar year.
Consequences of Failure to Comply
As always, there are consequences when a person or entity fails to comply with the law. The same holds true here. Below is an overview of what consequences can be anticipated if you fail to comply.
Revocation of MMP Permits
The Department may issue a notice of the proposed revocation of an ATC permit if the ATC has failed to comply with administrative requirements related to an ATC permit and has not corrected such violations with an approved plan of correction or imposition of other enforcement remedies. The ATC may face permit revocation if it has exhibited a pattern and practice of violating permit requirements posing a serious risk of harm to the health, safety, and welfare of qualifying patients, primary residents or employees. Ultimately, an ATC must correct violations.
An ATC is required to correct the violation within 20 calendar days of receipt of the official written report citing the violation(s). The violation shall not be deemed corrected until the Department verifies in writing within seven (7) calendar days of receiving notice of the corrective action that the corrective action is satisfactory.
Right to Appeal
Denial of an application or revocation of a registry identification card constitutes a final agency decision subject to review by the Superior Court, Appellate Division. An individual has the right to appeal a final agency decision within 45 days to the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division.
Medical Marijuana Program Prohibitions
There are a number of MMP prohibitions that stakeholders must be aware of. Here is an overview of those prohibitions.
- An ATC may not furnish usable marijuana to a registered patient or primary caregiver if the ATC suspects or has reason to believe that the person is abusing marijuana or other substances or unlawfully redistributing usable marijuana.
- Selling, distributing, dispensing or transferring marijuana is not allowed under New Jersey's MMP.
- An ATC will dispense medicinal marijuana only directly to registered qualifying patients and their registered primary caregivers.
- ATCs may not be located within a drug-free school zone.
- A person may not sell a registry identification card of any type.
- If an ATC or employee of an ATC sells, distributes, dispenses or transfers marijuana to a person not approved by the Department, or transports marijuana outside New Jersey in violation of Federal law, the ATC or employee of the ATC shall be subject to arrest, prosecution and civil or criminal penalties pursuant to State law.
Top Compliance Infractions in New Jersey
The top compliance infractions in New Jersey illustrate the need for a knowledgeable attorney to navigate the rules, regulations, and processes necessary to participate in New Jersey's Compassionate Use Medicinal Marijuana Act and Medical Marijuana Program.
Major compliance infractions include:
- An ATC is not immediately entering all marijuana and marijuana product(s) into the State-mandated inventory tracking system.
- An ATC does not have accurate or updated tracking logs for visitors, security and/or waste.
- An ATC does not have all required documentation available as required.
- Marijuana and marijuana product(s) sold to patients do not include all required public health and safety warning statements.
- Surveillance and safety violations, like cameras that do not have clear and unobstructed views of the ATC premise.
How can an Attorney help prevent or correct non-compliance issues?
The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medicinal Marijuana Act includes complex regulations, rules, and detailed application procedures for patients, physicians and primary caregivers for access to medicinal marijuana. The lawyers at Leaf Legal, P.C. know and understand the mandates of the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medicinal Marijuana Act and can help you navigate the complex process with an unparalleled understanding of the complexities of New Jersey's compliance requirements. Lawyers Stephanie Schuman and Joseph Bondy can provide state and local permitting and compliance expertise for medical marijuana dispensaries, cultivators and manufacturers.
An attorney is imperative to provide legal guidance on how to form and maintain proper medical marijuana business entities in compliance with state and local law and relevant guidelines and to identify and resolve any risk management issues. To learn more, please call Leaf Legal, P.C. today at 212-933-9420.