New Jersey: 1,000 Medical Marijuana Patients Now Registered; Only 130 Have Access
By Steve Elliott
The New Jersey Health Department last week reported that 1,000 patients are now registered in the state's medical marijuana program. The department reported this fact without much fanfare -- likely because, so far, only about 130 patients can actually buy cannabis.
Due to a shortage of functional dispensaries and other delays created by foot-dragging on the part of Republican Gov. Chris Christie -- who was never that thrilled about medical marijuana to begin with -- the access still just isn't there, three-and-a-half years after former Gov. Jon Corzine signed the medical marijuana bill into law.
Many patients are upset, reports Jan Hefler at Philly.com. In New Jersey, only patients with serious illnesses qualify for medical marijuana -- but patients with terminal cancer, AIDS, epilepsy and MS, though they qualify and have registered, are still waiting.
One patient, a former corrections officer, has sued the state for the delays, saying he is suffering while the state wrangles over strict rules that have led so far to the opening of only one dispensary. That one sells only to North Jersey patients, and has said it is overwhelmed by the demand.
New Jersey's medical marijuana regulations are often characterized as the strictest in the country. No home growing is allowed, so patients are stuck waiting for the state to implement the will of the voters, years after the fact.