How Could Legalization of Recreational Marijuana effect the Medical Marijuana program in NJ?
At NJGreenMD we strive to keep our patients fully educated on medical cannabis and part of this is the political climate and legalities surrounding cannabis in the State of New Jersey. The potential legalization of recreational Marijuana in NJ would be a giant change in this climate to say the least. So Here is the Question our patients are concerned with:
- How will the legalization of Recreational Marijuana effect the NJ Medical Marijuana program?
- More importantly how will it affect me as a Medical Cannabis patient in the State of NJ and What are the benefits I will have as a medical cannabis patient over a recreational user?
Here is a quick Summary of the main differences we expect to see with a much more in-depth analysis which follows below:
Taxes / Cost of Product:
- Medical = NONE
- Recreational: Starts at 7% increases to 25% over time and legislation is open to allow for additional taxes upon review.
Amount of Marijuana you can Posses:
- Medical: 2 ounces
- Recreational: 1 ounce
Supply and Demand:
- Medical: Demand= Currently about 15,000 patients Supplied by: 5 dispensaries who cultivate their own cannabis. If the medical dispensaries service recreational users special allotments and priority will be given to medical patients.
- Recreational: Demand: as a recreational user you will be in competition with literally every person 21 and older that lives in or travels to NJ to purchase some recreational marijuana Supply: Until the industry starts up this is a big question mark. Hopefully supply will be plentiful with wide variety however in the early days this may very likely not be the case. We may experience Surge pricing, highest quality and specialty strain marijuana may be marked up and hard to get. It is really all unknown for now but if you look at Las Vegas and other States it should be interesting to say the least, and challenging during the early years.
As a medical patient you can easily keep your card by renewing with NJ Green MD via Telemedicine (video visits) every 90 days and enjoy all the benefits of being a medical cannabis rather than trying to use recreational cannabis for medical purposes.
- Medical: Medical dispensaries have high CBD and CBG and specialty strains for the sole purpose of being better to treat specific conditions
- Recreational: recreational users are most commonly interested in the psychoactive effects of marijuana and very often prefer high THC strains which are commonly lower in CBD to increase psychoactive effects. Some specialty medical strains are not all that high in Thc and may be kept in much lower supplies in recreational cannabis retail stores
Waiting for the NJ Recreational Marijuana industry to begin:
We don’t know when exactly we will have recreational marijuana in NJ (it’s also not definite, highly likely, but not definite to become legal.) But it very well may take a while. You can see above that it took over a year in most states to get started.
The newly opening New Jersey Recreational retail centers may be inundated with clients, with lines out the door if las Vegas and Colorado’s programs can be used as indicators of what is to come our way. These retail centers may be mismanaged and inefficient, at the least there will be a big learning curve and a period of transition with all kinds of headaches. It will be nice to avoid all of these issues as a medical marijuana patient in NJ!
Recreational Marijuana V.S. Medical Marijuana in NJ, a much deeper look.
And so it Begins…It looks like NJ is about to get legalized recreational cannabis
Recreational marijuana in NJ has been a hot topic since the election last week when the Democratic candidate and new governor-elect, Phil Murphy won the election for Governor of NJ. Phil Murphy has been outspoken in his support for the legalization of recreational marijuana in NJ and has been clear about his intention to pass the current bill (S3195) by Senator Nick Scutari which proposes to legalize recreational marijuana in NJ and which proposes the full set of regulations for the NJ recreational marijuana program. Phil Murphy even included a call to end the prohibition on cannabis during his primary election victory speech in June.
Governor-elect Phil Murphy Stated in that speech: “The criminalization of marijuana has only served to clog our courts and cloud people’s futures, so we will legalize marijuana,” he said. “And while there are financial benefits, this is overwhelmingly about doing what is right and just.”
If enacted, Scutari’s bill (S3195), in its current form (it is still being revised), would allow residents over 21 to possess up to 1 ounce of cannabis, 16 ounces of infused solid products or 72 ounces in liquid form. Taxes on the drug would start at 7% until gradually reaching 25% over the course of a few years (further detail on the taxes below). New Jersey could enact legislation to legalize and tax marijuana as soon as April or May, according to state Sen. Nick Scutari (D-Union), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
If you follow current events surrounding cannabis in New Jersey you most likely already have heard of Senator Nick Scutari and his bill to legalize recreational marijuana. This bill could never pass under our current governor, Chris Christie, who is in strong opposition to the legalization of marijuana. But the bill is now expected to pass by legislation in 2018.
The Bill S3195 was modeled after the program recreational marijuana in Colorado. Members of NJ Senate actually took fact finding trips to Colorado, touring important businesses in the industry and speaking with key members of the recreational program and law enforcement officials in order to begin to craft the bill that will define the rules for the starting point of what will likely be a very large and lucrative industry for NJ.
This article will explore the differences we expetc to see and which are defined in the bill between being a recreational marijuana user and a medical marijuana patient in NJ and the rules which govern the use and possession of marijuana for both groups.
There are definite benefits to being a medical marijuana patient in NJ as opposed to a recreational marijuana user.
The Benefits of Medical Marijuana v.s. Recreational Marijuana in NJ
Change is likely in the horizon in NJ with recreational marijuana coming. The bill proposing recreational marijuana is well defined, and detailed. Here are some main points of the NJ Bill to legalize recreational marijuana (in it’s current public form):
Scutari’s bill, (S3195) Which was written after and based on visits to and research on Colorado’s booming recreational program would:
• Allow people to possess up to one ounce of dried marijuana (substiantially less than the NJ medical limit of 2 ounces.)
• Impose a sales tax on recreational marijuana sales beginning at 7 percent in the first year, climbing to 10 percent in the second year and jumping five percent more each year until it reaches 25 percent (Yikes!). Taxes on medical marijuana would be abolished!!!!!
• Decriminalize marijuana possession of up to 50 grams “immediately” and allow people who have been arrested for pot possession to expunge their records;
Lets look at the main differences we expect to see between being a medical marijuana patient in NJ v.s. being a recreational marijuana user
Taxes: Recreational marijuana in NJ will be taxed up to 25% while Medical Marijuana will have NO TAXES.
Bill S3195 to legalize medical marijuana defines steep taxes on recreational marijuana and also defines that medical marijuana shall not be taxed at all. According to the bill:
“There shall be a tax levied upon marijuana or marijuana products sold or otherwise transferred by a marijuana retailer to a person 21 years of age or older at a rate of 7% (for 1st year). To encourage early participation in and development of marijuana establishments and to undermine the illegal marketplace, the tax shall escalate annually over a three year period: such that in year one following the enactment of P.L. , c. (C. )(pending before the Legislature as this bill), the excise tax shall be seven percent; and in year two, the tax shall be 10%; and in year three, the tax rate shall be 15% ; and in year four the tax rate shall be 20% and in year five and beyond, the tax shall be 25% percent.”
In Summary the plan to tax Recreational marijuana in NJ is as follows:
- 1st year 7%
- 2nd Year 10%
- 3rd Year 15%
- 4th Year 20%
- 5th and after 25%
Medical Marijauna, According to the new bill, will have absolutely no taxes levied.
The Bill states:
“no tax would be levied upon marijuana intended for sale at medical marijuana centers pursuant to the “New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act,” P.L.2009, c.307 (C.24:6I-1 et seq.).”
Additionally the bill provides for adjustments to be made to the taxes upon review so it is feasible that taxes could grow in excess of what is defined above as stated in the Bill S3195.
Amount of Marijuana you can Posses:
Medical: 2 ounces
Recreational: 1 ounce
Supply and Demand:
Keep your medical card so you aren’t competing with every recreational marijuana smoker in NJ to get the medicine that you actually need to help your condition.
There are currently 5 medical marijuana dispensaries servicing approximately 15,000 patients who are in the NJ medical marijuana program. The dispensaries are usually not too crowded to get in when you need to buy medicinal cannabis and there is usually a wide selection of high quality medical cannabis to choose from. The 5 current dispensaries are able to supply the current amount of patients demand quite nicely.
It has been discussed that New Jersey, in order to introduce recreational cannabis more quickly, may allow the 5 dispensaries currently selling medical cannabis to begin selling recreational cannabis to recreational users while the recreational marijuana industry gets finalized and up and running in NJ. Senator Scutari recently mentioned that he was skeptical about this, and was concerned that the 5 dispensaries would be inundated.
If this were to happen, it is being discussed how recreational purchases would be limited to assure allowances would be made for medical patients to have cannabis first. This could turn into quite the supply and demand problem. Let’s look at what happened in Las Vegas when Nevada legalized a few medical dispensaries to start selling recreational marijuana to the general public:
In Las Vegas Recreational cannabis sales quickly outpaced the expectation of dispensary owners who experienced lines out the door when recreational marijuana purchases began in July of 2017. Dispensaries started running out of marijuana two weeks after legalization and the industry still had kinks to work out with the legalities of transporting the marijuana allowing the dispensaries to restock inventory. It turned into a big supply and demand issue magnified by all of the tourists. This could be a definite problem for New Jersey, which is the most densely populated state in the US, and which will be surrounded by states that do not have recreational marijuana. Cannabis tourism may boom in the Garden state in the coming years as it did in Colorado.
We are concerned with how will the emerging industry be able to handle the demand for recreational cannabis in our highly populated state?
How to avoid Recreational Marijuana Supply and Demand issues in NJ
Simply Put: KEEP YOUR MEDICAL MARIJUANA CARD, or if you are not yet a patient AND you have a qualifying condition, request a consultation today with NJ Green MD.
As a medical cannabis patient in NJ you will not be tied up in the infancy of the recreational marijuana market in NJ and all of its inevitable headaches to come as the industry begins and it’s problems get worked out over time and with more legislation. If our medical dispensaries are allowed to sell recreational cannabis to the general public while the industry gets started, as a medical patient you will get priority to avoid shortages on the medicine which you need. Recreational users, on the other hand, will be limited.
Of course we did not even mention that the industry is going to take a while to get started even if the bill were to pass on the Governor’s 1st day in office (which is not the plan). How long you ask? Keep Reading!
How long will it take for Recreational Marijuana to be available in NJ?
Here is a Quote from the current bill to legalize recreational marijuana in NJ S3195
“The bill shall take effect on the 360th day following enactment, but the director may take such anticipatory action as may be necessary to effectuate the provisions.”
So that kind of leaves the timeline a bit vague however a good way to predict this timeline is to observe how fast this happened in other States which started off similar to NJ is planning. Let’s have a look:
“How fast did recreational marijuana take to be implemented in other states?
Most States took more than a year after approval. According to the * Marijuana Policy Project:
- Colorado: Recreational Marijuana was approved in November 2012; the first recreational marijuana retail stores opened in Jan. 2014.
- Washington (state): Recreational Marijuana approved in November 2012; recreational marijuana sales were legal in July 2014;
- Oregon: Recreational Marijuana approved in November 2014; recreational sales were permitted at medical marijuana dispensaries in 2015 until recreational retailers were licensed and open in 2016; (NJ May do this same thing)
- Alaska: recreational marijuana Approved in November 2014; recreational marijuana sales were legal in October 2016;
- California: Approved in November 2016, first licenses must be awarded by January 2018;
- Massachusetts: Approved in November 2016; licenses to be awarded sometime in 2018;
- Maine: approved in November 2016; licenses to be awarded sometime in 2018;
- Nevada: Voter approved in November 2016; medical marijuana dispensaries opened for recreational customers in July 2017 and were having supply problems after 2 weeks; recreational sites coming in 2018.
So it seems, from this exploration of what happened in other states, that it will very likely be over a year until legislature is in place for the new NJ recreational Marijuana industry, but in the interim NJ may allow its 5 dispensaries to begin selling recreational marijuana (this is just being discusses as an option). If this were to happen allowances would need to be made to assure medical patients have their medical cannabis and that recreational sales do not cut into these medicinal supplies. Low Limits may be put in place for how much recreational users can buy to preserve cannabis for medical patients. If you want to avoid the hassle and the competition for high quality cannabis and the inevitable shortages, you will want to hold on to your NJ Medical Marijuana Card, if you are lucky enough to have one!!
Some Resource info used in this article:
Senator Scutari’s bill: S3195 – http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2016/Bills/S3500/3195_I1.PDF
This bill may change by the time it is presented