Medical Marijuana Registry in NJ Hurts Both Doctors and Patients

Jun 15 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Professional YouTube screamer and occasional governor of NJ (when he wants a helicopter ride), Chris Christie, has gotten a lot of media attention over his battles with public unions. Sadly, little if any attention has been given to his complete and utterly irrational attitudes and policies toward medical marijuana.

Chris Christie, who seemed to be open to the idea of medical marijuana as a Gubernatorial candidate, has since taken draconian measures to weaken the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, a final act in Jon Corzine’s term as governor. 

 Medical marijuana laws in NJ are the most stringent in the country. Governor Chris Christie and Democratic State Senator Scutari (D-Union) were at loggerheads last fall over the unreasonable restrictions Christie wanted to impose on growers. At the time, the law only allowed for a mere two growers. Outraged by Chris Christie’s nefarious attempts to severely water down the law passed by his predecessor, Scutari introduced a resolution that would repeal what he called “restrictive” proposed rules for the program if Gov. Chris Christie did not make them resemble the original legislation. Despite Scutari’s legislative efforts to repeal the medical marijuana program rules draft by the Christie administration, the state health department green lighted six legally-sanctioned growers and sellers in March. Naturally, the law’s Senate sponsors said they would rather “overturn the proposed rules and start over”, delaying the start of the program, than allow such restrictive regulations to move forward.

But it isn’t New Jersey’s legislators that are suffering.

A large amount of New Jersey residents suffering from debilitating illnesses, from cancer to Multiple Sclerosis, are majorly unhappy with Christie’s rigid proposals. In early March of this year, Multiple Sclerosis patient Sandy Faiola of Asbury Park questioned why the state wants to limit the potency of the drug sold to 10 percent tetrahydrocannabinol.

“Cannabis with THC levels of 10 percent or less may help some patient’s needs but not mine,” said Faiola, who suffers from severe muscle spasms and pain.

She also said it was “excessive” to charge a $200 fee on caregivers who agree to retrieve a housebound patient’s marijuana from a dispensary.

“My primary caregiver already spends many hours a month helping me do things like travel to appointments and pick up medicine, food and other things I need. Asking her to also pay $200 for a New Jersey permit in order to help me get this medicine is wrong,” Faiola said.

Medical Marijuana in NJ saw another setback yesterday.

New Jersey’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHSS) revealed that ninety (90) physicians are currently registered in a unique program for medical marijuana. New Jersey is the first in the country to require that doctors complete special requirements and register with the state to recommend cannabis, which is considered by many to be unnecessarily rigid.

In fact, physicians around the state roundly criticized the registry that requires training in addictive medicines. The former DHSS Commissioner Dr. Poonam Alaigh testified before the NJ Senate Health Committee in March that there were no similar requirements for other drugs. Perhaps this explains why a meager 90 doctors out of more than 30,000 who practice in New Jersey are participating in the medicinal marijuana program. Worse yet, this hardliner approach is leaving the patients of at least ninety specially qualified NJ physicians, approved under the strictest rules in the country, without legal access to a medical therapy they need.

A number of potentially qualifying patients have struggled to find doctors already registered, but evidently the list is not public. All of these hurdles and restrictions have forced NJ patients to simply give up on the program.

So it looks like New Jersey’s many gravely ill will have to either suck it up and the tolerate the excruciating pain, or risk arrest since therapeutic cannabis is only legal in NJ on paper.

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