In January, New Jersey became the 14th state to allow the use and sale of medical marijuana. The law goes into effect July 1, but it may be several months beyond that before the state has regulations in place and the “alternative treatment centers” — marijuana dispensaries — where patients will be able to legally get cannabis.
For now, dozens of hopeful entrepreneurs are quietly setting up nonprofit groups that will apply to run the first dispensaries in the most populous state outside California to legalize medical marijuana, reports Geoff Mulvihill of The Associated Press
Anne M. Davis, a lawyer who consults with several people interested in opening dispensaries, said she’s hearing from current drug dealers who want to go legal, caregivers who already get marijuana for the sick, and career changers, including commercial real estate agents who are suffering in the slow economy.
“They think, ‘Hey, I’m going to open this great business and I’m going to make a fortune,” Davis said. “But that’s not what it’s going to be. It’s going to be very strictly regulated in New Jersey.”
New Jersey patients, unfortunately, will not be allowed to cultivate their own medical marijuana
, unlike other states. So the question of who operates the state-licensed pot dispensaries becomes even more important in the Garden State than in most of the other states which have allowed medicinal cannabis use.
Patients will be allowed to buy only two ounces of marijuana per month, in yet another concession to old-time Reefer Madness fears, leaving many seriously ill patients who prefer to ingest the drug in edibles with an inadequate supply.
The regulations controlling dispensaries have not yet been written, and Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who claims he actually supports the medical marijuana bill, is trying to delay implementation of the law
to give his administration more time to work on the rules.
The state law, as already passed, requires at least six nonprofit groups be given the first dispensary licenses. The six centers must be spread geographically around the state. Subsequent dispensaries could be operated for profit.
Only doctors who have “ongoing relationships” with the patients will be allowed to approve marijuana use for them. Only certain medical conditions will qualify; cancer, glaucoma and any prognosis that gives the patient less than a year to live are on the list; many other ailments, including chronic pain, are not.