Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Roseanne Scotti 609-610-8243</p>
Trenton—The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act reached will reach a major milestone tomorrow when the New Jersey Department of Health and Human Services opens the patient registration process. Doctors who are treating qualifying patients will then be able to enter those patients into the patient registration system. Those patients can then apply for the registration cards that will allow them to purchase medical marijuana at one of the state’s Alternative Treatment Centers. The first center, in Montclair, expects to begin dispensing medical marijuana to patients in September or October. The law was enacted on January 18, 2010 but the implementation process has been slow.
The Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the Medical Marijuana Program, updated its website earlier this week with comprehensive information, including patient registration information. Program information can be found at: http://www.state.nj.us/health/medicalmarijuana/index.shtml
Roseanne Scotti, New Jersey State Director for Drug Policy Alliance, the organization that led the advocacy campaign pass the law, expressed excitement that the program would finally begin operations. “Patients and their families have waited too long for this day,” said Scotti. “They have been forced to run the risks associated with obtaining medical marijuana on the illegal market. It is fantastic that they will now have safe and legal access to the medicine they need to relieve their suffering and improve their quality of life.”
Don and Gerry McGrath, who lost their son, Sean, to cancer he was only 29, expressed hope that the opening of the program would mean that other families would be spared the agonizing experience they endured. The combination of Sean’s illness and its treatment destroyed his appetite and made him unable to keep down what food he could eat. After trying other medications without success, his doctors suggested that marijuana might help. Because New Jersey did not have a medical marijuana law at the time, the McGraths were forced to go to the illegal market for Sean’s medicine. “Since Sean’s death, we have been dedicated to making medical marijuana legal in New Jersey so that no family has to go through what we did,” said Don McGrath. “In addition to the emotional pain of trying to save our son, we lived in fear that we would be arrested. We were just doing what Sean’s doctors recommended and medical marijuana helped him enormously. The opening of the patient registration process is a major victory for patients and their loved ones.”