NJ Lawmakers to Hold Public Hearings on Classification of Marijuana as a Controlled Substance
The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs is holding two public comment sessions scheduled on April 19th and April 24th which will be part of the process to re-evaluate, particularly in light of recent changes to this State’s policies on medical marijuana, whether marijuana should remain as a Schedule I drug under the New Jersey Controlled Dangerous Substances Act (the “CDSA”), or be re-classified to Schedule IV (or lower). Marijuana is currently a Schedule I controlled substance, which according to the CDSA means that it “(1) has high potential for abuse; and (2) has no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States; or lacks accepted safety for use in treatment under medical supervision.” Alternatively, a Schedule IV substance “(1) has low potential for abuse relative to the substances listed in Schedule III; (2) has currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States; and (3) may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to the substances listed in Schedule III.” Of course, re-scheduling marijuana – if that is what happens – would not result in marijuana being legalized or decriminalized. However, a change in scheduling would impact how strictly marijuana is regulated.
The decision to conduct such hearings was largely due to the Appellate Division’s October 31, 2017 landmark ruling in Kadonsky v. Lee, where the court held that the Division Director has the authority to re-classify marijuana from a Schedule I controlled substance to a Schedule IV controlled substance, notwithstanding the federal government’s position on how marijuana should be scheduled. The Kadonsky decision particularly noted that the medical benefits from the use of marijuana were not known 1971 when the CDSA was enacted, and that recent scientific research suggests that marijuana has potential therapeutic value for several medical ailments.
More information about the hearings, including how to register to speak, and how to submit written comment, can be found in the Attorney General’s press release.
Pashman Stein Walder Hayden is carefully monitoring developments in New Jersey and federally with respect to marijuana legislation and will be available to help its clients navigate the sure-to-be complex regulatory framework of this potential business frontier.