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NJ’s Medical Marijuana Program Moves In Slow-Mo [AUDIO]

It’s been 3 years since Jersey’s medical marijuana law took effect, but thousands of patients suffering from a variety of medical conditions are still not able to legally buy pot to get relief.

Greenleaf Compassion Center
Greenleaf Compassion Center opened this month as New Jersey’s first operating dispensary of medical marijuana. (Townsquare Media)

Ken Wolski, Executive Director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana of New Jersey, says the fact that only one medicinal pot center has opened – in Montclair – is nothing short of ridiculous.

“Absolutely terribly unfair – it’s unconscionable really,” says Wolski. “These are patients who have debilitating medical conditions and the state is making them wait… There are 18 states and the District of Columbia that have medical marijuana programs, and New Jersey is among the worst…All six alternative treatment centers should be open – there’s no excuse for only having one alternative treatment center open. The law passed in January of 2010- that’s 3 years ago.”

He adds, “There’s just no excuse for not having the 6 alternative treatment centers opened- as the law called for – 2 in the North, 2 in the Center and 2 in the Southern part of the state. It’s just terrible for patients to have to go from Collingswood all the way up to Montclair just to get their medicine after waiting several months…The physician registry is just a boondoggle that less than 1 percent of the doctors in the state are taking part in, and thus, they’re eliminating access for 99 percent of the patients in this state.”

Wolski says, “The law allows for patients that have a diagnosis of less than a year to live to qualify for medical marijuana. But when you’re waiting 3 months, or a couple of months for an ID card, and then 3 to 5 months to get medicine, that just doesn’t work for a hospice patient. There needs to be some kind of expedited process for people who are dying…It’s a dysfunctional program -the medical marijuana program is not functioning as the law intended.”

A request to interview New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Mary O’Dowd was ignored, but a spokesperson issued a statement which says the facility in Montclair “has been open for two months. It’s a new business; the first of its kind in the state. The Department is hopeful that as Greenleaf gains more experience in its new business, it will expand its hours. The Department has asked Greenleaf to see patients in the order in which they were approved to participate in the program. Four other Alternative Treatment Centers have locations. The Department is actively investigating the finances of those programs as well as the personal histories of its principals.”

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