Delays Continue for Medical Marijuana Patients in New Jersey
Medical marijuana patients in New Jersey continue to wait for the state’s medical marijuana program to get off the ground. Then-Gov. John Corzine first signed the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act in January 2010, but since then, progress has been slow. Although the state originally planned to have the necessary alternative treatment centers open in July 2011, the state’s first licensee, Greenleaf Compassion Center, is not scheduled to open until September of this year.
Five planned facilities have been approved in NJ, but 4 do not yet have approved locations. Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer) has even called for a hearing into the cause of the delays, saying that there is “no adequate explanation” for the current situation. Difficulties with organization, vetting the necessary officials, and objections by locals have been some of the reasons cited for the delay.
Furthermore advocates say the regulations surrounding the program are too strict, and there have been very few patients approved in the state so far. Under the current system, patients must have an existing “bona fide” relationship with one of the limited number of participating physicians. The doctor must then submit an official statement recommending the patient.
The physician must then transfer a unique reference code to the patient, who can then use it to register themselves. The registration of a patient is only valid for 90 days, after which the doctor and the patient must repeat the process, a cumbersome process to say the least.
So far only about 50 patients have been registered in the state, and only 150 doctors are participating, out of 30,000 total doctors in New Jersey.
Relief seems to be on the way for some medical marijuana patients in NJ, albeit slowly. Hopefully the legislature or voters can relax the strict regulations currently in place and allow more people the choice of medical cannabis.
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