NORML is reporting this week that advocates of medical marijuana in New Jersey are critical of various draft regulations being circulated by the state Department of Health. The regulations in question are meant to implement the New Jersey Compassionate Medical Marijuana Act, which went into effect on October 1st. Pro-medicinal cannabis advocates, including the chief legislative sponsor of the act, believe that the measures being proposed are both too restrictive and unresponsive to patient needs.
Under the regulations being proposed, by July of next year the state will begin overseeing the distribution of medical marijuana to state-authorized patients. The manufacture of medical marijuana would be restricted to two licensed facilities, and the percentage of THC allowed to be present in the plans would be limited to a maximum of ten percent. In addition, the state wants to limit the varieties of cannabis allowed to be produced to a maximum of three separate strains. Four additional state-licensed facilities would be allowed to dispense cannabis (but not produce any) and patients would be limited to two ounces of marijuana per month, with no right to grow their own or share with other registered patients.
Patients violating those strictures would be subject to criminal prosecution.
Senator Nick Scutari, the democrat who sponsored the Compassionate Medical Marijuana Act, said that the regulations “significantly alter state law.” The original verbiage in the law mandates a total of six cultivation and distribution centers to be licensed throughout the state of New Jersey.
Chris Goldstein of the New Jersey branches of both NORML and the Coalition for Medical Marijuana is also critical of the draft regulations, declaring in a prepared statement, “Rather than create a reasonable set of regulations, the Christie Administration is playing politics with the lives of New Jersey’s most severely ill residents. Instead of opening a pathway to safe marijuana access these draft regulations only create more barriers.”
Health regulators have 60 days to review the regulations and accept public comment.
Speaking at a town hall meeting on Tuesday, Republican Gov. Chris Christie said that he “would not have signed the law,” which was approved by former Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine.
The full text of the draft rules is available here: http://www.nj.gov/health/draft_mm.pdf.