NJ Judge considers forcing health department to act on new dispensaries


As we reported yesterday, a New Jersey medical marijuana patient and physician are suing the state for dragging its heels in implementing the state medical marijuana program. Their argument: the state wants to sabotage the program by making it inefficient.
Yesterday, Superior Court Judge Marie Lihotz said that the lawsuit had some merit but she stopped short of agreeing that the state had purposefully done anything wrong.

Medical marijuana patient Richard Caporusso says that the state has taken too long to license medical marijuana retail centers according to state law, forcing him to drive 166 miles each way to the closest dispensary get access to legal cannabis.
Caporusso says that since Christie took office not long after medical marijuana was passed in the state, there has been no expansion of the program as promised. Christie has frequently spoken out against medical cannabis.
Caporuso and physician Jeffrey Pollack have sued the state to force the Department of Health review board to address the delays in licensing. The lawsuit also asks for the health department to speed up the approval process for those shops that have already applied. They point out that one dispensary application in Secaucus has been “under consideration” for more than two years even though the dispensary’s financiers have been under the microscope for fraud.
By keeping that application pending, the state is blocking the way for any other applicants who might be able to fill that void, according to NJ.com.
Lihotz said she would consider those arguments and understood why Caporusso would file the suit.
The state, meanwhile, says that the health department is merely being thorough. The state Attorney General argues the judge can only order the health department to speed things up if the health department process is “arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable.”
No ruling has been made.