Teaching hospitals hope to distribute marijuana

    New Jersey’s medical marijuana law has been delayed 90 days, giving Governor Chris Christie time to implement new regulations.

    Teaching hospitals in New Jersey are volunteering to be the state’s distributions centers for medical marijuana. From WHYY’s health and science desk, Kerry Grens reports on this unique proposal.

    The New Jersey Council of Teaching Hospitals pitched to Governor Chris Christie its proposal of being the only sites in the state where patients could access medical marijuana. That would require changing a law that already has been delayed by 90 days.

    Wolski: We think that it’s wrongheaded, it’s poorly thought out, it’s not going to work.

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    Ken Wolski is the executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana in New Jersey. He fears that changing the law and having hospitals involved will only delay access to patients.

    Reed Gusciora, a democratic Assemblyman and co-sponsor of the medical marijuana bill, says he’s generally supportive of the proposal.

    Gusciora: I hope for competition-wise we are still able to be flexible enough to open dispensaries. There are parts of the state that teaching hospitals aren’t accessible to patients.

    Donald Cinotti, president of the New Jersey Medical Society, says hospitals would provide tight controls on dispensing. His concern, however, is that patients may seek out physicians at hospitals who only care to make money by writing pot prescriptions.

    Cinotti: I think that we don’t want to get in to a marijuana mill with anybody just writing prescriptions and getting paid and not doing physical exams or really determining whether the patient would benefit from it or not.

    The current law and regulations designate six non-profit centers as the distribution sites. The Council of Teaching Hospitals says it will use profits from the dispensaries for teaching more physicians.

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