NJ Struggles With Implementing Medical-Marijuana Law


New Jersey legalized medical marijuana eight months ago, but its advocates are finding that the law does not get the drug to patients, reports the Associated Press. Some 70 activists – including potential patients, entrepreneurs who would like to sell pot, doctors who might prescribe it, and lawyers – gathered Saturday to figure out what they would like a distribution system to look like and how to get policymakers on their side. “Passing a law is the easy part of what you have to do,” said Stephanie Scherer of Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana patients group.

The advocates hope that if the state seeks to set price controls, the cannabis should be expensive enough that growers could afford to sell it but not too costly for patients, who say the drug can reduce pain and nausea and increase appetite. Figuring out how to regulate medical marijuana has been a conundrum in the 14 states that have legalized it, largely because the businesses that sell it are running afoul of federal law – and so are their customers, even if their states allow it. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been cautious about how to enact the law. His administration looked into a plan that would have had the state’s crop grown by Rutgers University and distributed by state hospitals. Rutgers decided that playing such a role would have been illegal. The state Department of Health and Senior Services is working on a registry for patients and developing regulations. State law calls for six alternative treatment centers to grow and sell the marijuana initially, though for-profit businesses could later get licenses.

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