On July 16, 2018, the New Jersey Department of Health’s Division of Medicinal Marijuana (the “DOH”) issued a Request for Applications (“RFA”) for up to six additional Alternative Treatment Centers (“ATCs”), commonly referred to as medical marijuana dispensaries.  The DOH will award two licenses in the northern region of the state, two in the central region, and two in the southern region.  This would double the number of ATCs currently operating in New Jersey.

The six additional ATCs will be vertically integrated (similar to the current ATCs in operation), but will be allowed to operate either as non-profit or for-profit entities.  Applicants are allowed to submit an ATC permit application for more than one region, but must submit a separate application for each region and rank the priority of its applications.

The RFA process is open to all applicants with the exception of entities already holding a permit to dispense medical marijuana (including affiliates) in New Jersey and individuals/entities with a 25% stake or more in any of the currently permitted ATCs (or entities responsible for the management of such ATCs).

Those interested in submitting an application must act immediately as the DOH has set an aggressive timeline for the application process.  Instructions for the submission of applications and all necessary forms will be available on the DOH’s website on August 1, 2018 and all completed applications must be submitted no later than August 31, 2018.  Further, every applicant must attend a mandatory, pre-application conference on August 9, 2018.  The purpose of that conference is to provide a structured and formal opportunity for the DOH to respond to questions regarding the RFA process.  Applicants that fail to attend this conference will not be allowed to submit an application.

Applications will be evaluated on a 1000-point scale pursuant to three criteria, each of which has several measures.  Each applicant will also be required to provide detailed information regarding its organizational and ownership structure.

We suggest applicants work closely with their attorneys, accountants and other advisors to complete their applications timely and consistent with New Jersey law.

On June 18, 2018, the New Jersey Department of Health (the “DOH”) published for comment its proposed amendments to the administrative regulations to New Jersey’s Medical Marijuana Program (“MMP”).  These regulations establish the standards by which the DOH implements the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, codified at N.J.S.A. 24:6I-1 et. seq.

The proposed regulatory amendments are a follow up to Governor Phil Murphy’s Executive Order 6 that charged the DOH with reviewing the MMP to identify ways to expand access to marijuana for medical purposes.

The DOH’s proposed amendments include:

  • Reducing the registration fee for qualifying patients and their caregivers from $200 to $100;
  • Adding senior citizens 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 only one;
  • Reflecting the addition of six qualifying debilitating medical conditions: PTSD, by statutory enactment; and five new conditions (anxiety, chronic pain of visceral origin, chronic pain associated with musculoskeletal disorders, migraines, and Tourette syndrome), by the State Health Commissioner’s March 22, 2018, petition decision;
  • Streamlining the petition process for the addition of qualifying debilitating medical conditions by removing the requirement that petitions must 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 State Health Commissioner regarding the use of marijuana for medical purposes;
  • Allowing physicians to opt out of inclusion on the public list of physicians participating in the MMP;
  • Removing the requirement of psychiatric evaluation as a condition of physician certification of minors as qualifying patients;
  • Creating an endorsement system for cultivation, manufacturing, and dispensing marijuana for medicinal purposes;
  • Authorizing the manufacturing and dispensing of medicinal marijuana in non-topical formulations;
  • Repealing the three-strain limit on authorized cultivation and dispensary activity;
  • Elevating the MMP to division status within the Department of Health;
  • Establishing an application process by which the six current alternative treatment centers can apply for satellite locations; and
  • Identifying the DOH’s criteria for evaluating applications for additional alternative treatment centers.

Interested parties have until August 17, 2018 to submit written comments to the DOH.  An unofficial copy of the DOH’s proposed amendments is available on the department’s website here.