Advocates say New Jersey’s marijuana rules too strict

    Medical marijuana for patients in New Jersey has been delayed several months, but the state health department is taking steps to clarify rules so growing can begin.

    Proposed rules to implement New Jersey’s new medical marijuana law have advocates balking. Kerry Grens reports from WHYY’s health and science desk that the law remains the country’s most restrictive.

    The New Jersey health department will have its proposed rules on the table for two months, during which applications from patients, growers and dispensers will be considered. The regulations call for four dispensaries, two cultivators, a $200 fee for patients, and providers may be restricted from participating if they have a criminal background.

    Scotti: I think the goal of rules seems to be to provide the least amount of relief to the fewest number of patients.

    Roseanne Scotti is the director of Drug Policy Alliance New Jersey, which supports access to marijuana for sick people. She says there are too few pick-up sites and the fee is prohibitively high.

    Scotti: If you can imagine there being only four pharmacies in all of New Jersey to serve people’s needs I think that would be very problematic. I think the cost for patients to get an ID card a registry card is $200, which I think is exorbitant.

    Deputy health secretary Susan Walsh disagrees.

    Walsh: We did I think a very fair balance between making sure that medicinal marijuana is available that there is access to qualifying patients as well as keeping it safe and secure.

    A physician registry is expected to go online this month, where doctors can register their patients for medical marijuana. Growers will be selected at the beginning of 2011, and marijuana could become available by next summer.

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