Is Recreational Weed Legal in New Jersey?

Medically reviewed by Alexander Tabibi, MD
August 13, 2021
New Jersey Cannabis Recreational
New Jersey Cannabis Recreational

Medical marijuana was legalized in the state of New Jersey in 2014. And, in November of 2020, residents voted to approve recreational adult-use marijuana.  As of February of 2021, possession legalization has been in effect throughout The Garden State.


History of Weed Laws

In January of 2010, NJ became the 14th state to legalize medical marijuana when voters passed the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act as part of the November ballot three months earlier.  Governor Corzine signed it into law on the 18th, only for Governor Christie to put a halt to the initiative as a result of taking over the governing position the next day, having won the election.  In August of 2012, the state’s medical marijuana patient registry finally opened, which permitted state-licensed physicians to provide patient certificates to the state’s Medical Marijuana Program.  In 2013, Governor Christie signed a law that permitted approved medical patients below the age of 18 to consume edibles with a physician’s certification.


Then, In June of 2019, Governor Murphy signed Jake’s Law, named after a pediatric cancer patient, Jake Honig, which opened up the medical marijuana program further to state residents by increasing legal possession amounts among medical patients, enabling home delivery service and loosening restrictions for cultivators, retailers, and manufacturers within this state.  More qualifying conditions were also added to the list.


Next, in November of 2020, voters passed the Marijuana Legalization Amendment, added to the ballot as Question 1.  This effectively legalized recreational marijuana use for adult residents at least 21 years of age.  It determined that a 6.625% sales tax would be applied to all recreational sales, and restricted municipalities’ abilities to place an additional tax on recreational sales by capping it at 2%. 


Now, in February of 2021, Governor Murphy finally signed the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act.  This permitted possession of up to 6 ounces of cannabis or 17 grams of hash and developed a basic framework for retail operations.  He also greatly reduced penalties for minors caught with possession, which would result in a warning rather than criminal penalties and fines.


Where Can a Person Legally Purchase Weed in New Jersey?

NJ has yet to develop laws for recreational dispensaries. This means recreational users don’t yet have access to retailers in order to purchase cannabis.  While residents living in Trenton, Atlantic City, Cherry Hill, Newark, Jersey City, etc. can possess cannabis legally, there is no established retail framework as of now, although that should change in the near future.


Medical patients who are registered with the state can visit a state-licensed dispensary to purchase marijuana.  Any qualifying adult 18 years of age or older can purchase cannabis for medical reasons from an Alternative Treatment Center but must provide a physician’s certification in order to be approved to purchase.  Medical patients must pay a 4% sales tax on cannabis products, but this tax will be eradicated in July of 2022 to make medical patients tax-exempt.  Medical patients can purchase up to 3 ounces of cannabis per month, but patients who are determined to be terminally ill or in hospice care do not have a purchase limit. 


Presently, the cannabis products permitted to be sold are flower, oil, topicals and oral lozenges. 


Where Can Cannabis Legally Be Used?

New Jersey prohibits marijuana consumption in public spaces, and therefore only allows it to be consumed on private property, which applies to both medical and recreational users.  The state is presently working out new and more thorough consumption laws due to very recent changes in legislation.  Dispensaries throughout the state are permitted to allow consumption to take place within their establishments.  Smoking cannabis, whether you are a recreational or medical user, is prohibit in smoke-free areas as part of the Smoke-Free Air Act enacted by the state.


Possession Laws

Adult cannabis users can legally purchase up to 6 ounces of cannabis or 17 grams of hash.  Meanwhile, medical patients can possess 3 ounces of cannabis for every 30-day period.


Can Residents Grow Their Own?

For the time-being, it is illegal for any cannabis user to cultivate their own marijuana at home.


Medical Marijuana

New Jersey’s Department of Health oversees the state’s Medical Marijuana Program.  A patient must receive a diagnosis from a physician for one of the qualifying conditions below and fill out a form that includes a certification from the physician.  The patient will receive a card upon approval that is valid at any state-licensed dispensary.  A medical card gives in-state workers protection against losing their employment simply due to their status as a medical marijuana patient.


Qualifying Conditions:

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Anxiety
  • Cachexia, or wasting syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain
  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Glaucoma
  • Inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease
  • Intractable skeletal muscular spasticity
  • Migraines
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Opioid use disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Seizure disorder, including epilepsy
  • Terminal cancer or illness, if the physician determines the patient has less than 12 months to live
  • Tourette syndrome


Patients can petition the Cannabis Compliance Board to add conditions.


Patient Qualifications:

For a patient to qualify, they must have been given a diagnosis of one of the above conditions by a practicing doctor, doctor’s assistant or a nurse who has a license to prescribe “controlled dangerous substances.”   


How to Register for Medical Marijuana in New Jersey

A patient can fill out the application for the state’s program through the Department of Health’s website.  They must include a state-issued ID and certification from their physician.  A recent photo must also be included.  There is a registration fee of $100 for most patients, and $20 for veterans, seniors and those who are on government assistance.


Qualifying as a Caregiver

A medical marijuana patient can designate a maximum of two caregivers.  They must be at least 18 years of age and a permanent New Jersey resident, and those who are not immediate family members of the patient must permit a background check.


Registering as a Caregiver

A patient must apply to be a caregiver through the same application process as the patient and must receive a state-issued card in order to provide care and pick up from a dispensary.


Reciprocity Laws

NJ currently has no reciprocity laws.


Licensing Laws

As part of Jake’s Law, all cannabis products in New Jersey must undergo strict testing by a third-party laboratory which must be state-approved, and test for contaminants and other unwanted impurities while also testing for potency.


Frequently Asked Questions


#1: When Did Weed Become Legal in New Jersey?

Recreational marijuana was legalized in New Jersey in November of 2020, and officially became law in February of 2021.


#2: Where Can I Buy Weed as a Recreational User?

NJ has yet to set up dispensaries that are for non-medical users. They are still working out laws and regulations.  However, you can legally possess cannabis in the state without legal penalty.


#3: Can I Have Weed Delivered to My Home?

Currently, you can have weed delivered to your home if you are a medical patient.  Governor Murphy permitted this as part of the COVID-19 response to ensure that medical patients could access cannabis in a contact-free way.


#4: Can I Drive While Under the Influence of Cannabis?

Driving while under the influence of cannabis is strictly forbidden in the state of New Jersey.


#5: Is Dabbing Legal?

The state permits the sales of concentrates, which means that dabbing is legal in New Jersey.


#6: Can I Grow My Own?

Currently, it is illegal to grow your own cannabis in the state of New Jersey. And, whether or not you are a medical patient.  Cultivation laws may come forth in the near future as the state is currently working on a more comprehensive set of cannabis laws following recent changes in legalization.