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N.J. medical marijuana registry in the works

August 23, 2010

Medical Marijuana

Image by Troy Holden via Flickr

BY BOB HOLT
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

People with serious chronic diseases who want to participate in the state’s medical marijuana program may be able to sign up for a patient registry within the next four to six weeks, an advocacy group leader said.

Speaking to about 75 prospective patients, legal advocates and aspiring marijuana merchants at the State Museum in Trenton, Chris Goldstein of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey said state health officials are now “actively working” on launching the patient registry after initial delays.

“There is strong intent to bring the registry online before the rules are issued,” said Goldstein, according to NJ.com, referring to the rules outlining how the dispensaries, or alternative treatment centers, will operate. “You may see it available this fall.”

The law adopted in January called for regulations to be drafted by June, but the deadline was pushed back to October.

In a report at the Daily Record, a Health Department spokeswoman says the state is developing a system for patients to register and working on other details. Patients must join the registry the state Department of Health and Senior Services will use to verify with their physicians that they have one of the conditions allowed under the new law.

“Passing a law is the easy part of what you have to do,” Stephanie Scherer, the director of the national medical marijuana patients group Americans for Safe Access, said to philly.com.

Figuring out how to regulate medical marijuana has been a problem in the 14 states that have legalized it, largely because it’s still illicit in the eyes of the federal government.

The businesses that sell the product are all technically running afoul of federal law, and so are their customers, even if their states allow it.

In recent months, his administration looked into a novel plan that would have had the state’s crop grown by Rutgers University and distributed by some of the state’s hospitals. Rutgers nixed that idea when they determined playing such a role would have been illegal.

NJ.com reports that Goldstein said he has been advising aspiring medical marijuana entrepreneurs to not rush into the business.

“If they don’t have the capital to sustain themselves through a tough regulatory process, wait. You better be prepared to lose a lot of money and focus on taking care of patients in the first few years,” Goldstein said during a separate interview.

An Associated Press article at Abclocal.go.com reports that Dawn Thomas, a state Department of Health and Senior Services spokeswoman, says it’s working on establishing registry for patients and is meeting developing regulations.

The state law calls for six nonprofit alternative treatment centers around the state to grow and sell the marijuana initially, though for-profit businesses could later get licenses.

However, there are parts of the law that advocates already say need to be changed. They would like patients suffering from a wider variety of medical conditions — currently only six are recognized — to be eligible.

And they want registered patients to be allowed to grow their own pot.

See original posting: http://www.newjerseynewsroom.com/healthquest/nj-medical-marijuana-registry-in-the-works

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