N.J. Advocates For Medical Marijuana Blast Proposed Regulations
Medical marijuana advocates say the regulations New Jersey has proposed for medical pot don't make sense for businesses, patients or doctors. Advocates used a state Senate committee hearing today mostly to blast the proposed regulations, which had few defenders there. The hearing was a step in a rare constitutional manoeuvre the state Legislature is using to try to force Gov. Chris Christie's health department to come up with new regulations.
Some lawmakers say the rules drafted by the Christie administration don't follow the intent of the legislation that authorized medical marijuana. After the hearing, the next step is a vote to invalidate the regulations. That can't happen for at least 20 days.
Idaho lawmaker introduces medical marijuana bill
DEA: We Have Not Relaxed Our Policy on Medical Marijuana
The US Drug Enforcement Administration's "Position on Marijuana 2010" is a hot document. Dated to July, it didn't really start circulating until this January when activist Ed Rosenthal found his name in it.
Since then, the DEA link to the paper is gone, but aGoogle site search yields the file. Yesterday, the Marijuana Policy Project told supporters that the DEA's position paper labels the drug law reform group Enemy #1. But that's just a little bit of the 54-page collection of anecdotal Reefer Madness.
Thin on actual research, the littlescience the DEA cites is biased. The paper almost never discloses the number of patients in a study group, and can't cite much US research — ironically, because the DEA plays a role in ensuring such studies never get approved. But the paper does relate some sad drug war stories.
- “While some people [think] the federal government has relaxed its policy on 'medical' marijuana, this in fact is not the case. Investigations and prosecutions of violations of state and federal law will continue.”
Medical Marijuana Ads Help Sagging Media Profits
Access to medical marijuana delayed
D.C. residents seeking medical marijuana are unable to obtain a prescription in the city, despite the legalization of the drug last summer.
Difficulties in regulating the drug have caused delays in dispensaries being set up, D.C. Department of Health spokeswoman Mahlori Isaacs said.
"Due to legal litigation, it is unclear when medicinal marijuana will make it to Washington, D.C. depositories," Isaacs said.
Medical marijuana became legal in the District July 27, 2010, after Congress' allotted 30-day review period expired. If Congress does not touch a bill passed by the D.C. Council in that 30-day period, it automatically becomes law.
The D.C. health department is responsible for establishing the regulations needed to ensure the legal distribution of the controversial drug. Proposed rules for the cultivation and distribution of the drug are expected to take effect once they are published in the D.C. Register. Though this is expected to happen soon, there is no official date set at this time.
GW Hospital spokeswoman Heather Oldham said the hospital is unable to comment on whether or not it will be allowed to distribute medicinal marijuana.
Oldham said the hospital's lawyers are still attempting to figure out what changes the hospital would need to make in order to accommodate the law.
D.C. hospitals will be able to distribute the drug if they submit a dispensary registration application and are approved by the D.C. Board of Health, similar to any other dispensary, Issacs said. She added that hospitals will probably not qualify as cultivation centers due to difficulties in ensuring the security of the facility.
GW Hospital physicians will be able to recommend marijuana treatment for patients who qualify.
A medical marijuana certification provider, according to proposed rules, must certify businesses or individuals who want to distribute medicinal marijuana. To be certified, distributors must submit an application detailing facility's staffing, security, cultivation and product safety plan.
As of now, no dispensaries have been qualified by the DOH, Issacs said.
Only individuals with a recommendation from a Department of Health-registered physician will be able to use medical marijuana in D.C. Anyone who wants to obtain the drug for medicinal purposes must also provide a social security number and proof of residency in the District to be approved by the DOH.
Only D.C. residents will be able to obtain the drug here, so students who are not permanent residents of the District won't be able to purchase marijuana from D.C. dispensaries, even if they have permission to obtain the drug in states that already allow the use of medicinal marijuana.
Will NJ medical pot law go up in smoke?
TRENTON -- The terminally ill's lack of access to medical marijuana is one of the worries of a state senator who is trying to force Gov. Chris Christie's administration to change proposed regulations of the drug.
Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-Middlesex, said the Republican governor's proposed rules have several flaws, including barring dispensaries from making home deliveries, even for terminally ill patients -- those defined in the regulations as having less than 12 months to live.
""Terminally ill patients are penalized,'' Scutari said.
Also, the levels of the drugs active ingredient are capped ""arbitrarily'' and a rule requiring doctors who register with the program to complete training in addiction medicine is ""unnecessary,'' Scutari said.
Scutari has scheduled a hearing Thursday with the Democrat-controlled Senate health committee that could lead to a rewrite of Christie’s rules.
Hanging in the balance is the delivery of medical marijuana to those who suffer from chronic or terminal illnesses, which the law, signed in January, is supposed to provide.
Some key Democrats said they fear the rewrite process could significantly delay the launch of the program, which would deny people who could use medical marijuana much-needed relief.
Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, D-Mercer, says Christie has already made adequate changes, with the governor upping the number of facilities to grow and distribute the marijuana to six, as the law calls for. The changes would make it easier for patients to get access to doctor-prescribed medical marijuana.
Gusciora said the amendments ""encompass parts of the compromise I had reached with the governor. They're not perfect but it's a starting point. I believe half a loaf is better than no loaf.''
""Scutari has the right to do what he's doing, but to start the regulations again from scratch will just delay seeing the program get started, '' Gusciora added.
But Scutari said this is likely the only time significant changes can be made, adding ""We only have one shot with this. We have to get it right.''
New Jersey got the ball rolling to become the 14th state offering medical marijuana when then-Gov. Jon S. Corzine signed legislation in January 2010, one day before Christie took office.
The law is formally known as the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act. Scutari and Gusciora were leading advocates.
Christie has insisted on strict rules, saying he wants to avoid creating a ""de facto legalization of marijuana" in New Jersey.
Christie had said there are flaws with laws in some other jurisdictions, leading to situations where there is ""a head shop in every town and quack doctors writing prescriptions for people with headaches to get marijuana.''
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