NJ Lawmakers May Change Overly Restrictive Medical Pot Rules


Graphic: Opposing Views

​New Jersey Senate and Assembly committees on Monday are looking at new resolutions to force changes to the overly restrictive medical marijuana rules proposed by the administration of Governor Chris Christie.

The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) issued draft regulations for the state’s medical cannabis program last month, reports Chris Goldstein at the Philadelphia NORML Examiner.
Among the new limitations proposed by the Christie Administration:
• A physician registry
• Capping THC content at 10 percent, compared to an average 18-20 percent in most medical marijuana states (no other state caps THC content)
• Having just three strains of cannabis available
• Forcing physicians to tell patients marijuana has a “risk of addiction
• Limiting licensed cultivation to just two grow centers.

Advocates, patients and even the sponsoring lawmakers agree that DHSS officials have missed the intent of the compassionate use law, and have made the rules so restrictive as to be practically unworkable.
The requirements are “blatantly political,” according to Ken Wolski, a nurse and executive director of the cannabis advocacy group Coalition for Medical Marijuana in New Jersey.
The Christie Administration is actively trying to weaken New Jersey’s medical marijuana program before it even starts, according to Wolski, who said the administration “shows open hostility to the use of marijuana as medicine.”
Senator Nicholas Scutari and Assemblyman Reed Gusciora introduced resolutions SCR 130 and ACR 151, which could force a reevaluation of the proposed marijuana regulations.
The bills would give the state DHSS commissioner 30 days to revise the proposed rules to make them friendlier to patients before they take effect in January.
The state’s proposed regulations for dispensing marijuana were released last month. Sen. Scutari said he hopes the Christie Administration will compromise with medical cannabis advocates.