Patients and advocates in New Jersey warily read news today of a request for a possible 12-month delay in the medical cannabis program. Some residents who are living with cancer, HIV and MS have already spoken with their physicians in anticipation of legal access this year.
Sources in state government told this blogger that over 2,000 people interested in becoming a registered patient or Alternative Treatment Center operator have preemptively contacted the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) in the last few months.
Draft rules for the cannabis program were expected from DHSS in July with patients hoping for the first legal medical marijuana distribution in the fall.
The NJ Spotlight and the Newark Star-Ledger reported today that Governor Chris Christie and DHSS have asked for 6 to 12 months more to issue regulations. Several complexities of putting the law into place were pointed out in the coverage, including the initial marijuana seed crop.
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Senator Nicholas Scutari, one of the strongest supporters of medical marijuana in New Jersey, did not want to see any delay.
The NJ legislature passed the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act in January after five years of consideration. It allows doctors to recommend cannabis therapy to patients who suffer from a specific list of the most serious medical conditions. The law included language for a six-month implementation plan.
Non-profit advocates were unaware of any of the questions remaining for the Christie administration. The local medical cannabis experts, involved in the passage of the law, reported no inquiries yet from DHSS.
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New Jersey just passed what is already the most restrictive medical marijuana law in the country, and now Gov. Christie wants to put even that off for another year? Who will be the next John Ray Wilson in that intervening year, a patient who just can’t stand the suffering long enough for Gov. Christie to implement the will of the people?
These stall tactics are unacceptable! Thirteen other states have medical marijuana; there are up to fourteen years’ worth of information on how to regulate a medical marijuana program! It’s not as if there are a lack of qualified growers in New Jersey.