N.J. Reaches Deal Allowing Medical Marijuana Sales

New Jersey governor Chris Christie reached a compromise with medical marijuana supporters, paving the way for sales of marijuana to the state's “seriously ill” patients by next summer, The New York Times reported Dec. 3.

New Jersey became the 14th state to legalize medical marijuana when the previous governor, Jon S. Corzine, signed the legislation last January. Governor Christie's administration then lobbied legislators and supporters for stringent regulations on growth and sales. For example, Christie advocated for two growing sites and four distribution sites; the compromise deal allows six locations for growing and distribution; home-growing will not be allowed. 

Christie also wanted to limit access to medical marijuana to patients who had tried every other treatment first. Only seizures, glaucoma, and “intractable muscle spasms” will be covered by that rule. 

However, New Jersey will be the only state that limits the drug's potency. State regulations will place a ceiling on the amount of the psychoactive ingredient that can be in the medical marijuana grown and sold in the state. Potency will be limited to 10% of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. 

Doctors who want to prescribe medical marijuana for their patients will have to register with the state and undergo training. Patients who are certified to have the drug will be limited to two ounces a month.

According to Mr. Christie, the regulations represent “the best way to move forward on a responsible, medically based program that will avoid the significant fraud and criminal diversion that other states have experienced.”

Advocates felt the deal unnecessarily restricted access to medical marijuana. Doctors would have to “attest that they've provided education for the patients on the lack of scientific consensus for the use of medical marijuana,” said Ken Wolski, a registered nurse who leads the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey. He said this was contradicted by the language of the law itself, which had “found legitimate uses for marijuana therapy in a number of specified conditions.”

Wolski said that the two-ounce monthly limit would not be enough for half the patients and that marijuana dispensed by pharmacies in the Netherlands had 13 to 18 percent THC.

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