Marijuana Sales Delayed

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  Marijuana Sales Delayed

Posted by CN Staff on February 26, 2012 at 19:44:57 PT
By Heather Haddon 
Source: Wall Street Journal 

Trenton -- Marijuana for medicinal purposes won't be available in New Jersey until the end of the year at the earliest, officials predicted to The Wall Street Journal, nearly three years after the state legalized the substance for the severely ill.New Jersey one of 16 states plus Washington, D.C., that allow medical marijuana—has taken longer than expected to launch its program because opposition to dispensaries in towns and villages was more vigorous than anticipated, and setting up a highly regulated system with safeguards against theft and fraud has proved challenging, said state Department of Health and Senior Services officials.
The officials said they didn't want to make the same mistakes as Colorado and California, where recreational users have found ways to buy marijuana through the state system. "It's a frustrating program in many ways," said Mary O'Dowd, commissioner of the Department of Health and Senior Services. "We're talking about building a whole new program, from the ground up, for an illegal product." Now, after years of slow progress, Ms. O'Dowd said the program is finally picking up steam. The first dispensary to open is expected to be the Greenleaf Compassion Center in Montclair, but it is still awaiting approval from the state. Meanwhile, a dispensary in Egg Harbor was given approval recently at the local level and is also awaiting state approval. Four others are looking for sites and are "moving along," said John O'Brien Jr., the new director of the state's Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana program. Next month, the state intends to announce a registry of physicians who can prescribe pot to those with a "debilitating medical condition," including HIV, cancer and multiple sclerosis, officials said. About 100 physicians have expressed interest. Officials said the number of potential patients is in the hundreds. Still, the delays in a program signed into law back in January 2010 have made patients anxious. Joseph Stevens, president of the Greenleaf Compassion Center, said his agency gets up to 30 calls a day from those seeking marijuana to alleviate their symptoms. Medical marijuana is used by those suffering from chronic illnesses to soothe symptoms pain and loss of appetite. Until marijuana sales are legalized, Marta Portuguez, a 50-year-old Roselle Park resident who suffers from fibromyalgia and gastroparesis, said she is relying for marijuana on a friend who obtains it illegally. "You don't know what it is to suffer the way we suffer," Ms. Portuguez said. About the drug still being unavailable to patients, she said: "It's just wrong." Ms. O'Dowd said she "empathizes" with that sentiment but said she doesn't want to rush the program forward and risk compromising security. Under the New Jersey law, patients would be allowed two ounces of marijuana a month. The price for a dose hasn't been set, but patients in the program would pay $200 for an identification card that must be renewed every two years. Medical insurance doesn't cover the drug. Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, was initially opposed after taking office in 2010 and added restrictions, such as limiting the strength of the marijuana. But Mr. Christie has since said he supports moving forward and appointed Mr. O'Brien, a former New Jersey State Police chief, to lead the program's implementation. Mr. O'Brien said the program would account for pot production and distribution down to the tenth of a gram by measuring what is harvested and disposed of—from seeds to stems. "It has to be well-monitored so it doesn't become the Wild, Wild West," said Mr. O'Brien in his first interview since his appointment in November. Mr. O'Brien, a 26-year State Police veteran who oversaw FBI and state criminal record systems, said he is at peace with his transition from policing to enabling people to buy the illegal substance. He has learned marijuana lingo like "mother plant" and "cuttings" and knows several people personally who will benefit from the program. "Sometimes it's frustrating," he said. "But I genuinely feel as though I'm doing something worthwhile for the people of the state." State medical marijuana programs have expanded steadily nationwide since a California referendum passed in 1996. That trend slowed in 2011, when the Obama administration took a harder line on state-sanctioned pot-growing, saying its policy of not going after users didn't apply to large commercial enterprises distributing the drug. Federal law prohibits the possession and sale of marijuana. Washington and Rhode Island have since backed off from efforts to allow dispensaries to open there. A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice didn't respond to a request for comment on New Jersey's program. Last July, after the federal government's decree, Mr. Christie said he wanted the program "to happen as soon as possible," and the six nonprofit dispensaries were instructed to open by January, according to Mr. Stevens. But then the state encountered a new problem—towns that didn't want the dispensaries. Centers must get local approval for their dispensary and growing facilities, which can be housed separately. Upper Freehold, a rural township in Monmouth County, rejected the Breakwater Alternative Treatment Center's attempt to build a pot-growing facility. It passed an ordinance banning township permits to future applicants distributing a federally banned substance, as have at least two other municipalities. "We're saying not in our town," said LoriSue Mount, mayor of Upper Freehold, Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon, a Republican champion of the law, said the centers have had to lobby for local support. "The folks that embrace these facilities will be lauded as forward-thinking heroes," he said. The program is operating on a budget of less than $200,000 and has required the coordination of a litany of state bureaucracies, including the health, agriculture and banking departments along with the Attorney General's office, Ms. O'Dowd said. Ensuring the dispensaries don't become criminal enterprises has been a focus. Each employee, officer, director and owner of a center must pass background checks. Once open, the dispensaries would be subject to random monitoring, Mr. O'Brien said. State police will dispose of waste products from the growing process, as with drugs taken off the street. Source: Wall Street Journal (US)Author: Heather HaddonPublished: February 27, 2012Copyright: 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.Contact: wsj.ltrs wsj.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives 

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Comment #13 posted by FoM on March 01, 2012 at 11:26:17 PT

I wanted to mention I like the brothers. I mind that we can't get a series that shows more of how it could work and in some cases does work. A series where people can't help but wonder what all the fuss is about.
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Comment #12 posted by FoM on March 01, 2012 at 09:46:58 PT

I think you are looking at it the right way. We just didn't find it as good as Weed Wars. The people we must influence are not our side but them and we all know there are many thems out there who vote.
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Comment #11 posted by Hope on March 01, 2012 at 08:55:18 PT

As far as a reality show goes
I liked it a lot. The brothers are likable and entertaining and they illustrated some of the problems dispensaries have. They obviously didn't choose dispensary owners that were not entertaining in some aspect. I did like it that they showed prohibitionists and dispensary owners and a lot of the reality of all that was portrayed well. The couple dispensary owners were interesting, but of course, people with personalities that were going to stir up the judgmental and self righteous crowd. But still, it did show nice people being hated on unnecessarily in my opinion. 
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on March 01, 2012 at 07:44:23 PT

We recorded American Weed but when they showed the one person getting hair removed from his chest we deleted it. I realized it was going in a direction that won't help our cause.
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Comment #9 posted by Hope on February 29, 2012 at 20:40:16 PT

New Jersey.... Three years?
How many people needed this help and didn't get it? How much suffering could have been lessened?Three years worth, minimum. At least.
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Comment #8 posted by Hope on February 29, 2012 at 20:37:18 PT

The other "Dazed and Confused"
‘Chemo Brain’ May Linger 20 Years After Breast Cancer Treatment've been being told it takes about ten years to get better. Now it's twenty. *smile* So in my eighties I'm going to get some of my memories and ability to think back. Wow. That's something that doesn't happen to just everyone.Of course, chemo, I believe, definitely facilitated my actually living to see my eighties.

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Comment #7 posted by Hope on February 29, 2012 at 19:10:22 PT

Dang. Dang.
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Comment #6 posted by Hope on February 29, 2012 at 18:59:54 PT

American Weed
On National Geographic Channel. Right now.This is interesting.
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Comment #5 posted by afterburner on February 29, 2012 at 09:03:59 PT

The GCW #4
"The initiative will be Amendment 64 on the ballot."Amendment 64 -- in the words of Moe Howard, "That's the spirit!"Go on, Colorado, make history.
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Comment #4 posted by The GCW on February 27, 2012 at 16:16:15 PT

POLL too.
Post Poll - Legalize Pot An initiative to legalize limited possession of marijuana in Colorado for adults has become the first measure to qualify for the November ballot -- read a related article. Are you in favor of legalizing limited possession of marijuana in Colorado?YesNoI don't know
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Comment #3 posted by The GCW on February 27, 2012 at 16:10:28 PT

Very good anticipated news from Colorado
Marijuana-legalization initiative qualifies for ballot An initiative to legalize limited possession of marijuana in Colorado for adults has become the first measure to qualify for the November ballot.The Colorado Secretary of State's office announced this afternoon that the campaign turned in enough extra signatures to make the ballot. Initiative proponents came up just short of the 86,105 needed signatures in their first attempt at submitting signatures. Given the chance to get more, proponents handed in more than 14,000 extra, of which nearly 7,000 were found valid, putting the initiative over the line.The initiative will be Amendment 64 on the ballot. Cont.
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Comment #2 posted by ekim on February 27, 2012 at 10:05:21 PT

see how to make alcohol fuel at OR event
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Comment #1 posted by dongenero on February 27, 2012 at 07:58:45 PT

Who's we? the saying goes.
"But then the state encountered a new problem—towns that didn't want the dispensaries. "Tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of signatures are required to get these referendum on the ballot. Then a majority of voters pass the legislation in a general election. How many thousands of affirmatives votes for medical cannabis does this represent?Then, my question is, how many signatures were these town officials required to get in order to ban implementation and thwart the law from being implemented? They create their own difficulties and conflict simply as a means to not do what they are supposed to do, which is implement this law as democratically directed by the electorate. Who's the "we" that is against this now and what are their numbers? Did they not vote for some reason?When faced with these obstinate, power mongering officials, it's time to up the ante and go for full legalization measures. Take away their "difficulties" for them. It's like dealing with obstinate teenagers. Trap them in their own obstinate behavior so that it makes the perceived "burden" of their situation worse than if they'd just done the right thing to begin with.
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