Many doctors registered with New Jersey’s medical marijuana program are not accepting new patients, while some are charging nearly $500 in cash for visits before they will recommend the drug, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. That may explain why only 130 patients have signed up so far for the state’s new program, say members of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey, a patient advocacy group that has been pushing for the alternative pain relief for more than five years. In Arizona, 700 patients applied to use marijuana when the state’s program opened last year.
“I wondered what it would be like for a hospice patient to try to navigate the program and to find a doctor,” said Vanessa Waltz, a coalition board member who telephoned all 148 doctors listed on the state Department of Health’s website last month when the patient registry was launched. Since then, the number has grown to 160 doctors of nearly 36,000 licensed physicians in the state. Three physicians who practice in Gloucester County were registered with New Jersey and with www.marijuanadoctors.com, a national organization of doctors who recommend the drug. They did not return calls, but their website said they will accept $150 in cash only for each of two to three required visits before they decide whether a patient is qualified to receive marijuana. Another New Jersey doctor on that website charged $300 for the initial visit. The state also has a fee: $200 for a marijuana ID.