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New Jersey’s 12 licensed medical cannabis companies have formed a trade association ahead of an election that will likely lead the state to legalize marijuana for those 21 and older.
The group, the New Jersey Cannabis Trade Association, announced its formation Thursday, marking one of the first times the alternative treatment centers have come together publicly. They signed a joint statement in March calling for online ordering for patients amid the coronavirus outbreak and also called on the state Department of Health to allow home delivery for patients.
New Jersey medical cannabis companies are developing delivery plans in order to better serve their customers who can’t easily get to dispensaries themselves as the state gears up for the next phase in medical legalization.
Four of the nine operational medical cannabis companies in New Jersey could soon begin delivering marijuana to patients, finally heeding the calls of patients to ease access to their medicine.
The four companies confirmed to NJ Cannabis Insider that they are seriously developing plans or awaiting approval of their delivery plans from the state Department of Health, which late last month enacted a waiver that allows for the delivery of medical cannabis.
Scott Rudder, president of New Jersey Cannabusiness Association, says a new waiver signed by the state Department of Health allowing the 11 permitted dispensaries to start home delivery is a game changer.
“Through the coronavirus, when we had a lot of restrictions, there were long lines and everything else so the state of New Jersey put forward their rules and regulations to allow for the current ATCs [alternative treatment centers] to provide a plan for home delivery,” Rudder said.
Harmony Dispensary in Secaucus is ready to go.
Delivery was included in the medical cannabis expansion law signed by Gov. Phil Murphy (D) last year but the service never launched.
Under the Health Department-approved rules, only dispensary employees are permitted to make the deliveries – meaning delivery companies will not be allowed to offer the service. The employee must undergo a background check and all delivery vehicles must be equipped with GPS tracking and a lockbox.
That options may well result in a sales uptick for dispensaries, since many patients are staying at home to avoid the coronavirus.
There are caveats. Among others:
- Only dispensary employees can perform deliveries.
- Any vehicle performing deliveries must be outfitted with a GPS tracking device, additional security and a lock box.
Although a change to the state MMJ law last summer allowed for delivery provisions, no action was taken until recently, NJ.com reported.
To ensure qualifying patients acquire medicinal marijuana safely and reduce trips to Alternative Treatment Centers (ATCs) during the state’s COVID-19 response and beyond, the New Jersey Department of Health today issued a waiver that allows ATCs to provide home delivery of medical cannabis to patients and designated caregivers. This marks a significant first step in implementing the full home delivery provisions found in Jake Honig’s Law, which was signed by Governor Murphy last summer.
“Right now the state of New Jersey is allowing 10 patients inside the facility. Everyone will be 6 feet apart. There are markers on the floor so people know where to stand. And our staff is well-prepared to handle the influx of patients,” said Verano Holdings Retail Executive Vice President Anthony Dindia.
Dindia says ZenLeaf’s operated by Verana Holdings with dispensaries in seven states. It’s taken two years for the company to get proper permits and finally open in Elizabeth.
Q: The pandemic ushered in some new innovations for patients and dispensaries, including curbside pickup. How do you think these changes are being received by patients? Are they satisfied?
Safe and convenient patient access to medical cannabis is essential, and being able to maintain that access should be a top priority for regulators and elected officials during this time of crisis.
Homebound patients, as well as those in rural areas without convenient access to a dispensary, still need and deserve convenient, safe, and reliable access to their medicine, on which many depend.
New Jersey regulators have already approved virtual doctors appointments and curbside pickup for medical cannabis patients.