N.J. Medical Marijuana Providers: ‘We Might As Well Grow Hay’


Photo: ImageShack

​New Jersey officials setting up the Garden State’s deeply flawed medical marijuana program heard Wednesday from people hoping to get one of the six licenses — two licenses for growers, and four licenses for dispensaries — called for by the new law. The feedback wasn’t positive.

The New Jersey law, described as the most restrictive medical marijuana law in the nation, is so strict that both prospective growers and sellers say some patients might keep getting their pot from illegal dealers.
At the hearing in Trenton, N.J., one prospective dispensary owner criticized the proposed rules by saying “anybody would be a fool to apply,” reports Brian Thompson at NBC New York.

One of the most asinine requirements of New Jersey’s overly busy law is the absurd and needless requirement that medical marijuana have 10 percent THC or less — meaning that state-licensed pot will be typically half the potency available in other states that have legalized medicinal cannabis.
“We might as well grow hay,” said Nadine Stevens, an organic tomato grower from Sussex County who is interested in applying for one of only two growing permits allowed by the new law. 

Photo: Anne M. Davis
Anne Davis, N.J. NORML: “I’m hearing patients say they will stick with their illegal market”

​”Different conditions require different strains,” agreed lawyer Anne Davis, executive director of NJ NORML.
She warned that patients in need of effective medicine won’t bother with sub-standard cannabis.
“I’m hearing patients say they will stick with their illegal market” rather than buying weaker 10 percent THC cannabis, Davis said.
Dr. Susan Walsh, who prepared the regulations along with her staff at the Department of Health and Senior Services, claimed she decided on the 10 percent THC limit “based on a blend of research” that her staff studied, without citing any actual evidence that weaker pot is better for patients.
Governor Chris Christie wants the medical marijuana law to fail, according to some activists, Davis said at the hearing.
Dr. Walsh also denied a suggestion that she was buckling under pressure from the administration of Governor Christie, who was able to delay by three months the implementation of the law, signed by his predecessor, Governor Jon Corzine.

Photo: Alexandra Pais
Dr. Susan Walsh, N.J. Department of Health and Senior Services: “We’re trying to find a balance between access and security”

​”Absolutely at no time did the Governor or his staff reach out to me and say ‘Sue, this program should not happen,’ ” Walsh claimed.
“We’re trying to find a balance between access and security,” Walsh said. 
Walsh did leave the door open for improvements in the rules, which have so far only gotten worse and worse.
“This program will change,” Walsh said. “I’m sure we didn’t get it 100 percent right.” Ya think??
“They’re treating everyone as criminals,” said Marianne Bays, who is interested in opening a medical marijuana dispensary, called Alternative Treatment Centers under the New Jersey law.
Dr. Walsh said she hopes to award the dispensary licenses in January or February, with the possibility of the first medical marijuana being sold by late spring or early summer.
“I’m going to call for applications very shortly,” she said.
New Jersey is charging a $20,000 application fee (with $18,000 refundable if you don’t get approved), along with requirements for lockboxes and $1 million insurance for delivery drivers, of which there have to be two in each delivery vehicle.
“It appears the way you set this up makes it seem extremely uneconomical for the ATCs,” said Jason Cogan, a lawyer who is interested in applying for a license.