Theories on the effectiveness of New Jersey's medical marijuana program remain in question as the state health department and Legislature continue to battle over its rules.
The health department has just released a revised set of rules for New Jersey's medical marijuana program. New Jersey's medical marijuana law was first enacted in January 2010.
The state Department of Health and Human Services also released a how-to guide for entrepreneurs who want to bid on the licensing rights to run the six alternative treatment centers selling marijuana. Licenses cost $20,000, but $18,000 would be refunded if the bidder loses.
The new rules reflect an agreement Gov. Chris Christie reached with the law's Assembly sponsor, Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer), that allow for six dispensaries to operate, instead of the four the administration initially sought.NorthJersey.com reports the latest version of the controversial program's rules comes a day after Sen. Nicholas Scutari announced there would be a Jan. 20 hearing to repeal rules the department announced in October that he and patients say make access to the drug all but impossible.
The Asbury Park Press reported the state Senate voted in December to force Gov. Chris Christie's administration to rewrite proposed rules putting the medical marijuana law into effect.
Two of the four concerns specified were addressed in a compromise by Christie and Gusciora. Those were the number and responsibilities for alternative treatment centers and the conditions for when a doctor can recommend a patient for medical marijuana.
The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act is already the most restrictive of all such laws in the nation, according to the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey. The qualifying conditions are severely limited and include any patient with a diagnosis of less than 12 months to live. Some of the conditions are glaucoma, seizures (including epilepsy), and multiple sclerosis.
Scutari said he held out hope for a compromise. He wants the state to remove its proposed limit on the potency of the drug, and to drop the requirement that doctors must get addiction training and consent they will wean patients off the drug as soon as possible.
The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey also joined the contingent opposing the health department's proposed medical pot rules. The ACLU took issue with the state preventing dispensaries from advertising their products or sharing prices over the telephone.