Trenton, NJ— On Monday, November 22nd the New Jersey State Senate will vote on a resolution (SCR 130) which will require the Department of Health and Senior Services to change its recently released regulations implementing the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act. The senate voting session is scheduled to begin at 2PM.
“The regulations proposed by the Department of Health and Senior Services are clearly inconsistent with the Act as written and with the intent of the legislature,” said Roseanne Scotti, Director of Drug Policy Alliance New Jersey which spearheaded the effort to pass the legislation. “There are restrictions in the proposed regulations that were not required by the legislature and which no other state has required. We urge the senate to pass this resolution to insure that seriously ill New Jerseyans have safe, legal and adequate access to medical marijuana.”
The resolution addresses four components of the proposed regulations.
· The draft regulations allow for only two entities to produce medical marijuana and four entities to distribute medical marijuana. The clear intent of the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act was that there would be at least six entities that would provide access to medical marijuana for patients in New Jersey. While the draft regulations do allow the four distributing entities to eventually have satellite locations, restricting the number of growers and producers to a virtual monopoly situation will harm patients and remove incentives to provide the best product and care for patients.
· The draft regulations limit the amount of THC allowed in medical marijuana to 10 percent. No other states impose such a restriction and there is no medical basis for this restriction. THC is the main psychoactive ingredient in medical marijuana and it is what provides relief for various symptoms. Arbitrarily limiting the amount of relief that can be provided by medical marijuana in New Jersey will harm patients and possibly force them to purchase medical marijuana on the illegal market.
· The draft regulations stipulate a two year waiting period before any new medical conditions can be added to the list of those for which patients can access medical marijuana. This waiting period was not required in the legislation and will prolong suffering among seriously ill New Jerseyans seeking relief through medical marijuana.
· The draft regulations also require a physician to certify that any condition for which a patient could be provided with medical marijuana has been resistant to conventional therapy. In the legislation this requirement only applied to certain conditions—not all of the qualifying conditions.
The Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act is supported by a coalition of organizations including the Drug Policy Alliance New Jersey, the New Jersey Academy of Family Physicians, the New Jersey League for Nursing, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, the New Jersey State Nurses Association, the New Jersey chapters of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Faith is Our Pathway and the New Jersey Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.