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Medical-Marijuana Backers Seek Workable Regulation
Posted by CN Staff on August 22, 2010 at 12:15:34 PT
By Geoff Mulvihill, Associated Press
Source: Associated Press
Trenton -- New Jersey legalized medical marijuana eight months ago, but its advocates are finding that a law alone does not get the drug to patients.About 70 activists - including potential patients, entrepreneurs who would like to sell pot, doctors who might prescribe it, and lawyers - gathered Saturday in Trenton to try to figure out what they would like a distribution system to look like and consider how to get policymakers on their side.
"Passing a law is the easy part of what you have to do," said Stephanie Scherer, director of Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana patients group. Some group members wore suit coats and ties, others Hawaiian shirts with prints of marijuana buds.The advocates have several hopes for the regulations the state is devising. Among them: If the state seeks to set price controls, the advocates want the cannabis 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.In New Jersey, allowing medical marijuana was one of the last acts of Gov. Jon S. Corzine, a Democrat who signed a law that is the most restrictive among those adopted across the country. But he left many of the details to his successor, Republican Gov. Christie.While Christie supports the idea, he has been cautious about how to enact it.In recent months, his administration looked into a novel plan that would have had the state's crop grown by Rutgers University and distributed by some of the state's hospitals. Rutgers, though, determined 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, spokeswoman Dawn Thomas said. After getting an extension from the original deadline of July 1, the state has until October to publish the regulations.The state law calls for six nonprofit alternative treatment centers around the state to grow and sell the marijuana initially, though for-profit businesses could later get licenses.Activists also are encouraged that state officials have met with them in recent weeks after months of refusing to do so."We left the meeting confident that the department of health is trying to implement the law," said Ken Wolski, executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana of New Jersey. He said he was hopeful that patients would be able to buy marijuana legally by March.Source: Associated Press (Wire)Author: Geoff Mulvihill, Associated PressPublished: August 22, 2010Copyright: 2010 The Associated PressCannabisNews Medical Marijuana Archiveshttp://cannabisnews.com/news/list/medical.shtml
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on August 23, 2010 at 11:15:40 PT
N.J. Medical Marijuana Registry in The Works
Monday, August 23, 2010People with serious chronic diseases who want to participate in the state's medical marijuana program may be able to sign up for a patient registry within the next four to six weeks, an advocacy group leader said.Speaking to about 75 prospective patients, legal advocates and aspiring marijuana merchants at the State Museum in Trenton, Chris Goldstein of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey said state health officials are now "actively working" on launching the patient registry after initial delays."There is strong intent to bring the registry online before the rules are issued," said Goldstein, according to NJ.com, referring to the rules outlining how the dispensaries, or alternative treatment centers, will operate. "You may see it available this fall."The law adopted in January called for regulations to be drafted by June, but the deadline was pushed back to October.In a report at the Daily Record, a Health Department spokeswoman says the state is developing a system for patients to register and working on other details. Patients must join the registry the state Department of Health and Senior Services will use to verify with their physicians that they have one of the conditions allowed under the new law."Passing a law is the easy part of what you have to do," Stephanie Scherer, the director of the national medical marijuana patients group Americans for Safe Access, said to philly.com.Figuring out how to regulate medical marijuana has been a problem in the 14 states that have legalized it, largely because it's still illicit in the eyes of the federal government.The businesses that sell the product are all technically running afoul of federal law, and so are their customers, even if their states allow it.In recent months, his administration looked into a novel plan that would have had the state's crop grown by Rutgers University and distributed by some of the state's hospitals. Rutgers nixed that idea when they determined playing such a role would have been illegal.NJ.com reports that Goldstein said he has been advising aspiring medical marijuana entrepreneurs to not rush into the business."If they don't have the capital to sustain themselves through a tough regulatory process, wait. You better be prepared to lose a lot of money and focus on taking care of patients in the first few years," Goldstein said during a separate interview.An Associated Press article at Abclocal.go.com reports that Dawn Thomas, a state Department of Health and Senior Services spokeswoman, says it's working on establishing registry for patients and is meeting developing regulations.The state law calls for six nonprofit alternative treatment centers around the state to grow and sell the marijuana initially, though for-profit businesses could later get licenses.However, there are parts of the law that advocates already say need to be changed. They would like patients suffering from a wider variety of medical conditions  currently only six are recognized  to be eligible.And they want registered patients to be allowed to grow their own pot.Copyright: 2010 newjerseynewsroom.comURL: http://www.newjerseynewsroom.com/healthquest/nj-medical-marijuana-registry-in-the-works
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