The Montclair center is jammed because it was supposed to serve only North Jersey. Other facilities were supposed to open soon after it did, but they have been delayed finding locations and meeting the regulations. The next opening is slated for this summer in Egg Harbor Township in Atlantic County, but experts question whether the facility will open anytime soon.
The state’s regulations permit the Montclair center to cultivate marijuana only after a patient is registered — and it takes three months to cultivate a plant.
New Jersey’s rules are the most stringent of all the states that permit medicinal marijuana. Regulations were added after the law was signed in early 2010. Governor Christie and many legislators have said the rules are meant to prevent the problems discovered in other states.
Our own Senator Singer was very concerned that marijuana laws should be clear and free from federal prosecution. He wrote a letter to the Governor asking for assurance that there will be no legal ramifications. Perhaps he has connections with individuals interested in opening marijuana clinics in the future.
In California, for instance, U.S. attorneys shut down at least 500 dispensaries last year after investigations revealed countless prescriptions were obtained for recreational use.
New Jersey is permitting six dispensaries. Patients must register with the state and obtain prescriptions from a physician who has either treated them for a year or seen them on at least four visits. The state also gives physicians the discretion to decide, after examining a patient and the medical history, when to make a recommendation.
Advocates for medical marijuana have praised the quality of operations at the Montclair dispensary and lamented the long waits. Some fear that other dispensaries won’t proceed until thousands of patients are registered, to ensure ample demand for the prescriptions. If that’s the case, the waits could grow even longer in Montclair.
As of last week, 199 physicians had registered to prescribe the drug, but not all of them were doing so.