By "Radical" Russ Belville
TRENTON (NJ.com) — Doctors who recommend their sickest patients use marijuana to alleviate their suffering must “make reasonable efforts” at least every three months to wean their patients off the drug, according to the latest rules Gov. Chris Christie’s administration has proposed to implement the controversial law next year.
The routine evaluations are necessary to ensure patients are not becoming addicts, and the drug is actually easing their discomfort, according to proposed medical marijuana program rules for doctors the state Attorney General’s Office made public today.
One of the law’s sponsors and a lobbyist for the medicinal marijuana program expressed surprise and disappointment with the proposal, calling it the latest assault on the law Christie inherited when he took office in January.
Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer) and Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) have sponsored a resolution awaiting a floor vote that would repeal the medical marijuana program rules as written by the Department of Health and Senior Services. They claim the rules — which include stricter limits on the drug’s potency and how many may outlets shall grow and sell it — would make it too restrictive to benefit those who really need it.
Scutari said he would consider moving to repeal these rules too. He said he expected doctors would be monitoring their patients’ marijuana use, but didn’t want them to discourage its use at every opportunity.
There are no such rules requiring doctors to wean their patients off of any other legal prescription drug. If a patient develops an addiction, the doctor certainly has the training to determine that and act professionally and accordingly. Patients should not be considered addicts until proven innocent, especially if you’re proposing that rule for cannabis but not Oxycontin.
Gov. Christie just does not want anyone to have medical marijuana, period. He inherited a last-minute passage of medical marijuana as Gov. Corzine was turning over the keys to the governor’s mansion. He’s got doctors registering for the royal approval to even consider recommending cannabis and now he’s going to dictate how they follow up on that recommendation. Cannabis will only be grown in two locations, limited to three strains of less-than 10% THC, and sold at four dispensaries in a state of 8.7 million people.
Contact your New Jersey state legislator and tell them to back Assem. Gusciora and Sen. Scutari as they work to create a medical marijuana program that actually works as they intended.