New Jersey’s Department of Health and Senior Services yesterday released long-awaited regulations for the medical marijuana program first approved by its state legislature in January. They are among the most stringent medical marijuana guidelines in the nation.
To qualify, patients must have one of nine conditions, and their doctor must treat them for at least one year (or have seen them four times) and show that other treatments have been ineffective. Patients can apply for the program starting next month, but none are expected to receive their medicine until at least summer 2011.
The law originally called for six nonprofit dispensaries to grow and sell marijuana to patients, but these latest rules scale that back to two growers for the entire state – who will supply only four nonprofit dispensaries statewide. (By comparison, Washington, D.C.’s medical marijuana regulations, which are also quite narrow, propose up to five dispensaries for the entire District). And, in what is perhaps the first requirement of its kind in the nation, New Jersey will limit the potency of all medical marijuana to just 10 percent THC.
“Overall, it seems the goal of the regulations is to provide the least amount of relief to the fewest number of patients,’’ DPA’s Roseanne Scotti told local news outlets. “This wasn’t what was foreseen by advocates. We already had the strictest law in the country; I didn’t think it could get any worse.”