For many months now NORML has publicly criticized political efforts to quash New Jersey’s nascent medical marijuana program — which, nearly one year after having been signed into law, has yet to authorize even a single patient to legally use cannabis.
Most recently, New Jersey Department of Health officials released draft regulations seeking to limit the manufacturing of medical cannabis to two licensed state facilities. The proposed rules also restrict the percentage of THC that may be present in the plant to no more than ten percent, and limit the varieties of cannabis that may be produced to no more than three strains. They further demand that doctors who authorize their patients to use marijuana must “make reasonable efforts” at least every three months to wean them off the drug.
Under the yet-to-be formalized law, patients would be authorized to possess no more than two ounces of cannabis per month, and would not be permitted to grow their own marijuana or share it with other registered patients. Patients who possess unauthorized amounts or strains of marijuana will still be subject to arrest and criminal prosecution under state law.
NORML believes, as does the sponsor of the original law, that these proposed regulations are unduly restrictive and, in fact, violate the intent of the Compassionate Medical Marijuana Act. That is why we are asking New Jersey residents to write their state lawmakers and ask them to approve a pair of concurrent resolutions to compel Health officials to revise the proposed regulations.
On Monday, November 8, members of the Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee and members of the Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming voted in favor of the resolutions, which may be acted on by the floors of both chambers as soon as November 22. If you live in the Garden State, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action’ Center, and tell your member of the Assembly and Senate to affirm these votes by going here.
Also check out today’s op/ed in the New Jersey Star Ledger, “Snuffing out medical marijuana,” by NORML New Jersey’s own Chris Goldstein for the latest.
Snuffing out medical marijuana
[excerpt] Gov. Chris Christie is engaging in an ugly game of politics when it comes to implementing the medical marijuana law. … Qualifying New Jersey residents will remain in the crossfire between Christie and a law he openly opposes unless the Legislature acts decisively.
… The nonprofit medical marijuana advocacy groups in New Jersey, the sponsor legislators and now Senate and Assembly committees agree that the DHSS limitations are far outside the intent of the law.
The term “medical marijuana” means more than just the plant; it means an entire system of compassionate care. Hundreds of thousands of Americans find relief today in 13 states [Author's note: now fifteen] with working programs.
Under the guise of avoiding problems in other states, the governor and DHSS would have inexperienced health groups try their hand at cannabis here. The result will cut out expert small businesses and keep patients underground.
The governor and DHSS officials could still create a program more in tune with real world patient needs rather than a flood of desk-drawer rules.
Patients and advocates remain willing to work with the administration.
Otherwise, New Jersey may get a Soviet-style medical cannabis program that is missing the compassion and choices that the law was meant to provide or worse: nothing at all.