Medical Marijuana Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

New Jersey is attempting to add more green to the state. However, we don’t mean color. The Garden State is looking to increase the availability of marijuana, including both medical and recreational use. Recently, Gov. Phil Murphy revitalized the state’s medical marijuana program, and he is currently working to legalize adult recreational use as well. That said, before participating in marijuana use, yourself, it is imperative that you know the difference between medical and recreational marijuana.


Even though most of the country continues to loosen laws on marijuana, that doesn’t make it a legal substance. First of all, regardless of the 46 states that have legalized medical marijuana, the substance is still illegal under federal law per the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. § 811). This act does not acknowledge any difference between the medical and recreational use of cannabis.

That said, in the state of New Jersey, medical marijuana is not only legal, but the program has recently seen a few updates. Thanks to Gov. Murphy, New Jersey has added 600 physicians that can prescribe medical marijuana. According to NJ Spotlight, 5,000 new medical marijuana patients have been given access to the medicine since January because of several changes to the New Jersey law, even under the five new eligibility conditions added in response to a March report. Physicians who treat the symptoms of qualified conditions are able to prescribe marijuana. Initially, only doctors dealing with the underlying medical condition were able to prescribe marijuana.

Furthermore, New Jersey law concerning marijuana places restrictions on patients. For example, the law requires that medical marijuana patients purchase their product from one of the six licensed “alternative treatment centers.” It is possible that in the next months there will be more flexibility for buying marijuana because of the potential for recreational vendors.


Gov. Murphy is also hoping to legalize recreational marijuana use, but as of May 16th, 2018, it is still illegal. However, if recreational use becomes legal, the state would allow only adults 21 years or older to possess and use small amounts of marijuana. The goal of this legalization is to control and regulate the manufacture, distribution, and sale of marijuana. This means that there will be specific taxes on marijuana purchases and it will only be legal to purchase marijuana from an approved center.

The Current Difference

Currently, only medical marijuana is legal. Therefore, a participating physician must prescribe medical marijuana in order for an individual to lawfully purchase, possess, and use the substance. It also affects how users can purchase marijuana. Currently, they can only purchase from one of the six licensed “alternative treatment centers”. The law even limits how these centers can service individuals. Without a prescription in hand, you cannot purchase marijuana.

Understanding the difference between medical marijuana and recreational allows the public to make informed decisions. If you use marijuana for medical purposes, it’s important that you understand the law that allows for that. Medical marijuana users must know their rights and what to do when dealing with local authorities. Contact us if you need more help understanding the law and how it affects you.