Tony NYC suburb welcomes NJ's first pot dispensary
MONTCLAIR, N.J. (AP) - Across New Jersey, most communities approached about hosting one of the state's first legal medical marijuana dispensaries in out-of-the-way industrial zones have just said no, after outpourings of public opposition.
Montclair is a different story.
The cosmopolitan suburb a half-hour train ride from Manhattan has not only allowed Greenleaf Compassion Center - which last week received the state Health Department's first license to begin providing pot to patients - but also let the business set up in the middle of the town's main drag, and with no fuss.
For plenty of people in the way left-of-center town, the situation is a source of both pride and nonchalance.
"Why are the other communities so closed-minded as to not accept something like that?" said Peter Ryby, owner of Montclair Book Store, around the corner and down the block from the not-yet-opened alternative treatment center.
The town of 38,000 is sometimes called "the Upper West Side of New Jersey," referring to the famously upscale and liberal part of Manhattan, but it's also reminiscent of well-heeled bohemian spots such as Boulder, Colo., and Berkeley, Calif. There's an art museum, an international film festival, a Whole Foods, Thai restaurants, racks for commuters' bikes, and the headquarters of Garden State Equality, New Jersey's largest gay-rights group.
The population - 62 percent white, 27 percent black - is racially integrated and largely well-to-do. The median household income is $140,000.
And the idea of tolerance is part of the town's identity. In a scene in "Mad Men," a TV drama set in the 1960s, characters who went to Montclair for a party were stunned to see black and white revelers together - and marijuana being passed around.
Medical marijuana is a dicey business. In the eyes of the federal government, the medicine is still an illegal drug.
Some patients say marijuana can ease symptoms associated with conditions ranging from multiple sclerosis to migraines. It has been used to treat pain, nausea and lack of appetite in cancer and AIDS patients.
Seventeen states and Washington, D.C., have flouted federal law and passed some sort of statute to allow patients access to the drug.
Each state has its own model for how the cannabis can be distributed. Some, like New Jersey - where advocates lament and some officials brag that the laws are the nation's strictest - are still in a startup phase.
So far, nine states - Arizona, California, Colorado, Maine, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington - have dispensaries operating. Some states are still setting up distribution systems, and some use home-grown marijuana or other setups that do not include dispensaries.
Chris Goldstein, a spokesman for both the Philadelphia chapter of the pro-pot group NORML and the Coalition for Medical Marijuana of New Jersey, has visited dispensaries all over the country. He said most of the storefront operations look more like the one ready to open in Montclair than those proposed in industrial districts of New Jersey.
"The dispensaries are in the higher-end neighborhoods of California towns. There are people who are wealthy and who are poor who need to access medical marijuana," he said. "In New Jersey, it's wherever the dispensary can get their location."
New Jersey is not allowing registered patients to grow their own, and is limiting the potency, amount and variety of pot patients can buy. There's a relatively short list of conditions that qualify patients for the drug, and unlike some more lenient states, chronic pain and anxiety aren't on it.
Only New Jersey residents are eligible. New York, easily reachable by rail, does not allow medical marijuana, though lawmakers have proposed doing so.
Last year, the New Jersey Department of Health selected six nonprofit groups to pursue plans to grow and sell cannabis. The other five have struggled to find towns that will accept them, and none yet has permission to start growing marijuana, let alone sell it.
Groups are planning sites in Egg Harbor Township and Woodbridge. The other three groups have not announced their latest location plans.
Only Greenleaf has had a direct path. In its application, the group said it would meet patients in Montclair and grow its plants in another, undisclosed town. The group won't say where, citing security.
A year ago, Janice Talley, Montclair's director of planning and community development, found that the site on Bloomfield Avenue - next door to an abortion clinic and three buildings down from an adult video store that has pipes and vaporizers displayed for sale - would be a permissible for the new business under zoning laws.
Talley said she fielded complaints from some national anti-marijuana groups. "Nobody from the town called me and complained why we had that facility," she said. "It wasn't a huge issue here."
Behind the counter at Health Love and Soul Juice Bar and Grill a couple doors down from Greenleaf, Jarisi Anderson, said he's all for the new establishment. "It's a beautiful thing," he said.
His co-worker, Queen Townsend, fears the place could be a problem, but she believes she's in the minority. "The people I've met in Montclair - I don't want to stereotype - a lot of people here smoke weed," she said. "They don't have a problem with that."
The guys smoking tobacco down the street at Fume, a cigar shop, said they aren't troubled by legalizing marijuana - medicinal or not. "It's a waste to lock somebody up for a nickel bag or a dime bag," said shop owner Ralph Alberto.
But the dispensary could give the non-Montclair residents who go there to protest another cause.
Last week, Bernadette Grant stood across the street from the dispensary's neighboring abortion clinic with rosary beads in one hand and anti-abortion pamphlets in the other. She said she considers medical marijuana in the same category as abortion.
"This is not pro-life ," she said. "This is pro-death."
New Jersey's first medical-marijuana dispensary wins clearance to begin sellingBy Jan Hefler
Inquirer Staff Writer
New Jersey's first medical marijuana dispensary has been cleared to begin selling the drug to patients who register with the state Department of Health.
After weeks of setbacks, Greenleaf Compassion Center received a permit Monday to open for business in a former drug paraphernalia shop in Montclair, Essex County. The nonprofit organization will be allowed to offer only strains with reduced potency.
Health Commissioner Mary O'Dowd said Greenleaf had passed its final inspections, but could not say when the dispensary would open for business. Asked if it would do so before the end of the year, she said: "I would expect that."
In August, when patients could begin signing up, O'Dowd had anticipated that Greenleaf would start dispensing marijuana in September. On Monday, she would say only that Greenleaf would open when it was ready.
Greenleaf chief executive Joe Stevens and his partner, Julio Valentin Jr., did not return calls seeking comment.
In August, Stevens also said he expected an early-September launch, but later explained that Montclair officials had told him it would take a few weeks to issue a certificate of occupancy after the building was renovated. He also said he did not know the Health Department would require laboratory testing of the marijuana before granting final approval.
O'Dowd said photo ID cards would be mailed to the 190 patients who registered with the Health Department after their doctors certified that they had medical conditions that can be alleviated by marijuana. An additional 130 patients are still going through the registration.
More than a year ago five other nonprofit companies received preliminary approval to open dispensaries, but they have been stymied by the lengthy process.
New Jersey is one of 17 states to allow medical marijuana despite a federal ban on the use of the substance. Federal officials have told the states they will not enforce the ban if marijuana is dispensed only to sick people and if state regulations are obeyed.
O'Dowd said her agency wanted to make sure New Jersey's program could withstand legal challenges and had taken the time to put together regulations to protect the public as well as patients. One of the challenges in implementing the program, she said, is that "the federal government views this as an illegal product."
Some dispensary owners and patients believe the state has been overly cautious and restrictive, causing patients to needlessly suffer.
Compassionate Care Foundation, one of the two nonprofits that plan to open a dispensary in South Jersey, has had to push back its estimated opening date many times in the last year because of problems getting local and state approvals. Its principal officers have had to undergo more than eight months of background checks, including extensive scrutiny of their finances.
William J. Thomas, the dispensary's chief executive, said last month that his company might be forced to abandon its plans if the background checks are not finalized soon.
O'Dowd said Monday those checks had not been completed. Thomas did not return a call and e-mail seeking comment.
Patients also have been getting anxious, especially those who paid the state's $200 registration fee in August and were expecting to receive their medicine last month.
"As each day passes, there's someone new who is suffering and someone new at risk of being prosecuted for self-medicating" by purchasing marijuana on the black market, said Rich Caporusso, a Medford man who was among the first patients to register.
He has Crohn's disease. He said his doctor believes his pain can be controlled by marijuana without the side effects of stronger drugs. In April, he sued the Health Department, saying it was stalling and ignoring patients' pain.
The medical marijuana law that then-Gov. Jon S. Corzine signed in January 2010 was supposed to be implemented that summer. But when Gov. Christie took office a few weeks after the signing, he wanted a full review of its provisions and also assurances from the federal government that there would be no prosecution.
The Health Department also took months to craft stringent regulations to limit the drug to patients with terminal illnesses, multiple sclerosis, and other serious ailments.
Jay Lassiter, an AIDS/HIV patient from Cherry Hill, said the Health Department's announcement was "wonderful news." He said he hoped there were no more snags.
He said the news was bittersweet because it came too late for Diane Riportella, a friend and patient activist who had testified at hearings, urging the Health Department to stop the delays in implementing the program.
She died last month of ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). "She should have been first in line," Lassiter said.
Ads running to legalize marijuana in three states
By Carl Marcucci
In November, voters in Colorado, Washington and Oregon will consider legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Although similar initiatives have failed in the past, this time the groups fighting to legalize pot are well-organized, professional and backed by high-dollar donors willing to outspend the competition, reports Raycom News Network.
In Colorado, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) has produced several ads that say marijuana is healthier than alcohol. The campaign’s website points to medical studies that claim marijuana, unlike alcohol, has not been linked to cancer, brain damage, addiction or high healthcare costs.
CRMLA was given nearly $1.2 million from the Marijuana Policy Project, a DC-based lobbying group, as well as more than $800,000 by Peter Lewis, the founder and chairman of Progressive Insurance. Lewis has been a vocal proponent of marijuana legalization for several years and donated millions to legalization efforts around the country.
In an online video ad campaign, CRMLA has young adults explaining to their parents they prefer marijuana to alcohol. In one of the ads, titled Dear Mom, a 20-something woman tells her mother marijuana is “better for my body, I don’t get hung-over and honestly I feel safer around marijuana users.”
In Washington, rather than comparing marijuana to alcohol, New Approach Washington (NAW) is focusing on legalization, arguing outlawing cannabis does more harm than good, by wasting tax dollars on law enforcement while letting gangs control the money. She describes the possible benefits of legalization through saved law enforcement dollars and extra tax revenue.
The TV spot has a professional/executive looking woman, “I don’t like it personally, but it’s time for a conversation about legalizing marijuana. It’s a multi-million dollar industry in Washington state, and we get no benefit.”
These efforts appear to be working. In Washington, 50% of voters say marijuana should be legal while 38% say it should not, according to an Elway Research poll. And in Colorado, a Denver Post poll showed 51% of Coloradans were in favor of legalization, while 41% opposed it.
In Washington, the effort to legalize marijuana is being fought with a bankroll of between $4 and $5 million, according to the Raycom News Network story. NAW used those funds to put $1 million into television advertising during August, and hope to put triple that amount into the weeks preceding the November vote.
In total, groups in Colorado fighting to get marijuana legalized have a war chest of $2.5 million.
The campaigns are especially targeting women ages 30 to 55, whom tend to be less supportive of legalization and regulation than men.
The only visible group opposing the marijuana ballot, SMART Colorado, has been given less than $200,000 – most of it from Save Our Society, a Florida-based anti-drug group.
RBR-TVBR observation: Interesting that the Chairman of Progressive Insurance is donating so much money in this legalization effort. Perhaps legalizing it would create fewer accidents/injuries from police chases and save the insurance industry money? We doubt drivers with the stuff in their car would try to flee if it’s no more illegal than a pack of cigarettes. Who knows, but Progressive is a big corporation and Lewis seems to not be concerned about sticking his neck out on this.
NJ's Medical Marijuana Program Finally Takes Off
That's the day when qualified patients can first register to receive an ID card for purchasing medical marijuana. That doesn't mark the start of any drug availability which is likely to come sometime next month.
Creating a patient registry is an important first step in allowing patients to use medical marijuana. But that doesn't mean people who participate in the system are safe from legal consequences.
New Jersey is the 17th state to permit medical marijuana but possession and use of the drug is still a violation of federal law, medical use or no.
The fact that a patient is allowed to purchase and use marijuana under state law does not protect them from federal prosecution, according to a Supreme Court case from 2005. Obama has said that it's not his priority to bust medical marijuana users, but that doesn't mean the government is ignoring dispensaries, reports LA Weekly.
The legal murkiness doesn't seem to be stopping New Jersey from going through with plans to allow medical marijuana. The state already has about 150 doctors registered to prescribe the drug and six nonprofit dispensaries with a license to sell.
Only one of those dispensaries currently has a site but it plans to begin selling soon, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The Greenleaf Compassion Center of Montclair, New Jersey hopes to open its doors in September pending final permits. Until other dispensaries open it will be the sole provider of medical marijuana in the state.
Upper Freehold moves to block medical marijuana growing facility
In New Jersey's long road to becoming a medical marijuana state, it turns out that passing the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act was just the beginning. Two years later, the controversy has moved from the Statehouse in Trenton into the halls of municipal complexes, where approved medical marijuana treatment centers have encountered local resistance. On Thursday, the five-person township committee for the small, rural town of Upper Freehold, in Monmouth County, gathered at Stonebridge Middle School, in Allentown, to enact a local law that would effectively ban a proposed medical marijuana growing center in their town. The law, which passed unanimously, prevents local approval for any applications that explicitly violate federal law -- which, of course, includes growing marijuana. An overwhelming majority of residents who turned out for Thursday night's meeting were there to express, in no uncertain terms, their desire to see the proposed facility, Breakwater Alternative Treatment Center, run out of town.
Medical Marijuana in New Jersey: 'This Law Was Designed to Fail'
Rues Road—which winds through an idyllic and remote area of Upper Freehold Township, New Jersey, past lush farm fields and the occasional McMansion set back on a sprawling parcel of land—doesn't look much like a battlefield. But it's become ground zero in the fight over the state's Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, in limbo for nearly two years since former Gov. Jon Corzine signed the bill on his last day of office in January 2010.
A pot farm wants to move into a property on Rues Road, residents are up-in-arms, and medical marijuana advocates say a tiny but adamant group of anti-weed activists is behind efforts to stall the act indefinitely. And while many eyes here have been focused on New Jersey's nascent medical marijuana program as a potential model for Pennsylvania to adopt, the only lesson that seems to be coming out of the Garden State is how to pass a law without ever actually implementing it.
In July, Gov. Chris Christie, who's made no bones about his disdain for the law, reluctantly announced that New Jersey was forging ahead with the delayed and highly regulated program because the federal government—which still classifies marijuana as an illegal substance with no medicinal value—assured him that state and local employees at facilities growing or dispensing the drug would not be prosecuted.
The announcement gave the green light to six nonprofit alternative treatment centers (ATCs) mandated by the act as the state's sole providers of medical marijuana—two ATCs each in South, Central and North Jersey—to find suitable locations for their operations, with the provision that they first had to get approval from local municipalities before setting up shop.
So far, that's proved difficult. In October, Compassionate Sciences ATC's proposed location in Maple Shade was rejected by the township's zoning board. The Compassionate Care Foundation ATC received the preliminary go-ahead for a site in Westampton, Burlington County, but was informed a few weeks ago that it now has to go before the township's Land Development Board early next year for approval.
But things have reached a fever pitch in Upper Freehold, where Breakwater ATC wants to set up its marijuana grow operation on a half-acre of land on one of two sites along Rues Road (they're also considering two other sites within a mile of Rues Road). Hundreds of outraged people packed a local school auditorium on Nov. 22 to express their concerns over a possible increase in danger and crime—armed thugs coming to their quiet town to steal the weed, marijuana customers smoking weed in the Breakwater parking lot then driving around stoned, etc.—as well as the stigma of being home to a pot farm. In the wake of that meeting, the Upper Freehold Township Committee is set to pass an ordinance on Dec. 15 that would ban any enterprise that violates federal law.
Despite Christie's public assurances that the feds will keep their noses out of pot farms throughout the state, that's still not good enough for Upper Freehold Mayor LoriSue Mount, an ardent Christie backer who sits on the five-person township committee and strongly supports the ordinance on principle. "It's not a decision about whether medical marijuana is right or wrong, or right in Upper Freehold Township or another town," she says, insisting that she's not necessarily personally opposed to the idea of medical marijuana for patients suffering from cancer and other debilitating diseases. "It's strictly that it's prohibited by federal law, and if we stop paying attention to the laws, where do we end up? It would be anarchy."
But Chris Goldstein, spokesman for the Coalition of Medical Marijuana New Jersey, says that's bogus. He believes Christie purposely delayed implementation of a law he personally despised under the guise of concerns about federal prosecution—which Goldstein says would be "remarkably unlikely"—as long as he could, and now the tactic is being employed on the local level.
"The very clear friction that's happening between state and federal law on this issue is making it easier for a minority opposition to hold back this law," Goldstein laments.
Noting that a Rutgers-Eagleton poll issued on Nov. 30 found that 86 percent of New Jerseyans support medical marijuana, Goldstein believes that just a handful of people are coordinating efforts across the state to stymie ATCs from getting the necessary municipal approvals.
"What you've got is sour-grapes opposition who lost the battle for the bill reorganizing opposition on the local level, in each of the places there's a land use hearing," says Goldstein, pointing to one foe in particular: 64-year-old Belvidere lawyer David Evans, head of the Drug Free Schools Coalition and a longtime anti-pot crusader.
Goldstein accuses Evans of using "reefer madness" scare tactics—through phone calls, e-mails and other means—to rile up locals in Upper Freehold, Maple Shade and elsewhere, as well as get in the ears of various committee members, zoning officials and others in charge of the ATC approval process. He says Evans or his close allies have "been spotted at many of these hearings," an assertion backed up by Chuck Kwiatkowski, 40, a fellow medicinal pot advocate who suffers from multiple sclerosis and says he smokes weed in lieu of 27 prescriptions (at a cost of several hundreds of dollars a month that he doesn't have) recommended by his doctor.
Kwiatkowski, who lives in North Jersey, says he traveled to the Nov. 22 meeting in Upper Freehold to support Breakwater because he figured Evans would be there. He says Evans wasn't there, but claims that some of his people (whom Kwiatkowski recognized from other hearings) were—heckling him and chanting slogans like "Up with hope, down with dope."
"They treated me like I was the devil, and I have MS," says Kwiatkowski.
Reached by phone at his Belvidere office, Evans says the accusations being leveled at him are ridiculous. He denies attending any meetings anywhere in the state relating to ATC approvals. He says he's spoken with one member of the Upper Freehold Township Committee (whose name he says he can't recall) "briefly on the phone" and "I may have talked to a council member in Montclair," where Greenleaf Compassion Center is trying to open a pot dispensary.
"I have not had an ongoing communication with any of these people," says Evans. "The only thing I've done was I've sent them the arguments why [medical marijuana] is illegal under federal law, and I've tried to show them news stories about what's been happening in other states and how local people are objecting to it and so forth."
Evans also denies that he's responsible for any kind of effort to stir up local residents in areas where ATCs are trying to lay down roots.
"What these people would like to do is blame this all on me instead of saying that there are people in the state that don't like this," he says. "It's a lot easier to make me into a bogeyman than accept the reality of what's really going on here."
Upper Freehold resident Kimberly Lima, a 40-year-old mother of two small boys, says she's spearheaded local opposition to Breakwater—personally obtaining more than 600 signatures for a petition against the ATC—mostly over concerns about her family's security. She insists she's never heard of Evans, and resents the suggestion that he's behind the furor.
"I find it so highly offensive that we would need an outside influence to tell us what we can do in our neighborhood," she fumes. "Most of the reason why we're so against Breakwater coming here is because we know our area. And we know how this is going to change the character of the area."
Evans says he's delighted by the opposition to Breakwater and the other ATCs. Anti-pot to the hilt, Evans cites numerous studies that claim marijuana is harmful, particularly to people suffering from cancer and HIV/AIDS. He says there’s no scientific basis for medical marijuana, and points out that smoked marijuana has never been approved as medicine by the Food and Drug Administration. Evans thinks the public has been hoodwinked by medical marijuana advocates whose real goal, he believes, is the legalization of recreational weed, which, he says, "would be a disaster."
"These medical marijuana people make very compassionate arguments and they bring in people in wheelchairs, and everybody says 'Ohhhh' and their hearts melt and they say, 'Give them whatever they want,'" says Evans, who also disputes the veracity of the Rutgers-Eagleton poll.
"If you ask, 'Are you in favor of giving marijuana to people who are dying and in pain?' then sure, everybody would say, 'Yeah.' But if you ask, 'Are you in favor of giving people a medicine that isn't safe or effective and hasn't been approved by the FDA?' then people would not be in favor of it."
Breakwater says that if the Upper Freehold ordinance is passed on Dec. 15, they'll challenge it in court. A statement issued by the company last week read, in part, "We will use every means at our disposal to enforce our right to own and operate a greenhouse facility that complies with existing zoning regulations...this course of action would be both expensive and regrettable for all parties involved."
In a subsequent phone conversation, a Breakwater representative reiterated the company's intention to make a stand in Upper Freehold rather than give up and seek an alternate site—as other ATCs have done—and endure similar struggles in other towns.
Goldstein says that if the state's medical marijuana program wasn't so over-regulated, and that home cultivation was allowed, the current mess wouldn't exist. Still, he believes Christie and members of the New Jersey Legislature could put a stop to all of the delays and maneuverings by publicly exerting pressure on municipalities to comply with the Act. But he says their silence speaks volumes.
"It's all politics—they can have the appearance of being compassionate, but at the same time they can know that on the ground they're never really going to have an operating program," says Goldstein, who says that most patients in New Jersey have given up hope that they'll ever be able to get their hands on legal medicinal marijuana.
"This program has been designed to fail."
N.J. Green-Lights Medical Marijuana Program as Calif.’s Goes Up in Smoke
John Farley thirteen.org
Nearly two years after it was legalized in New Jersey, lawmakers announced last week that the state’s medical marijuana program, the most restrictive in the country, would be fully functional sometime in 2012.
How high are the risks? Should New York be looking to its historically less-progressive neighbor as a model for effective medical marijuana policy?
Gov. Chris Christie had issued a surprise announcement in July that the state would move forward with its then-stalled medical marijuana program. But since then, federal prosecutors have done something even more surprising: They raided and seized property from medical marijuana growers and dispensaries in California, despite the Obama administration’s indications that they would not crack down on such facilities.
New Jersey’s medical marijuana policy has been in flux for months now. In 2010, the New Jersey State Senate passed the Compassionate Care Act, requiring the state to license six medical marijuana dispensaries. But even though 86 percent of New Jersey voters support medical marijuana, Christie put the program on hold while he awaited word from federal officials that New Jersey marijuana workers and doctors would not be prosecuted, reported the Star-Ledger.
Word never came, but the governor, a former federal prosecutor, felt that a memo from the U.S. Justice Department indicated the agency would stay true to President Barack Obama’s campaign promise in 2008 not to prosecute states that passed medical marijuana legislation, even though it violates federal law. The memo suggested that the federal government did not consider it an efficient use of time to enforce penalties on terminally ill patients seeking marijuana for medicinal reasons. In July, Christie gave medical marijuana the greenlight.
Then, in October, four U.S. attorneys in California announced a tough new agenda to shut down marijuana growers and dispensaries they said were violating the original intent of the state’s law, which was passed back in 1996, the New York Times reported. The federal prosecutors said many of the dispensaries were operating as part of a large-scale, for-profit drug operation, as opposed to dispensing medicine to ill patients. Raids, arrests and property seizures followed, along with job losses in California’s marijuana industry.
Since Christie’s announcement in July, there have been multiple setbacks for New Jersey’s pot program, however, none of them were caused by the federal government. New Jersey zoning boards rejected four of the six proposed grow sites and dispensary locations due to worries about weak oversight, acting in violation of federal law and of course residents’ overwhelming NIMBY fears, reported Yahoo News.
But on Nov. 29, Christie’s administration said the state debacles over dispensary and greenhouse locations had been smoothed out and that they were confident that the stringent laws governing the program would enable it to avoid federal prosecution. Though New Jersey will not make its original deadline of Dec. 31, 2011, the medical marijuana program will definitely be up and running in 2012, reported the Star-Ledger.
So what makes lawmakers think New Jersey’s medical marijuana program is a fairly safe bet? Consider the following facts about the state’s Compassionate Care Act:
- Sixteen states and Washington D.C. have medical marijuana laws, and New Jersey’s is the most restrictive, according to Politifact. Some other states, like California and Colorado, allow doctors to prescribe marijuana for a host of ailments, including psychological issues like anxiety, and even issue patients multiple prescriptions cards so that the patient’s friends or family can pick up their prescription for them — or, you know, for themselves. New Jersey limits prescriptions to patients with terminal illnesses or illnesses where conventional pain medication has failed, such as glaucoma and epilepsy. Furthermore, a doctor can only prescribe marijuana to a patient they’ve been seeing for over a year.
- This is a big one: New Jersey’s non-profit dispensaries are all licensed by the state, unlike in California, where they are not required to obtain a state license specifically to sell marijuana. “They’ve [federal prosecutors] never interfered with a dispensary licensed by a state,” said Roseanne Scotti, New Jersey state director of Drug Policy Alliance. “In California, the dispensaries are not state licensed. In Colorado, they are, and we haven’t seen any interference in Colorado.” Thus, you’re not likely to see dispensaries with giant neon pot signs out front, as is the case out West.
- The quantity and quality of pot that can be legally possessed is quite limited in New Jersey. A New Jersey patient can only receive 2 ounces of marijuana every 30 days, unlike in California, where patients can buy bundles of the stuff. Furthermore, New Jersey is the first state to limit the potency of medical marijuana, in this case to 10 percent. To put that in perspective, the average marijuana potency in the United States is just over 10 percent. In California, where pot growing in Humboldt County is basically an artisan trade, potency levels reach upwards of 30 percent.
- To the disappointment of medical marijuana activists, who hoped a doctor would regulate the program, Christie recently appointed a 26-year police veteran to oversee the industry.
If New Jersey’s program manages to avoid becoming as leniently regulated as it is in California, it’s possible that New York could look to its neighbor as a model. There’s currently a bill in the New York State Senate, sponsored by Senator Tom Duane, which is similar to New Jersey’s. In November, the New York City Council passed a resolution supporting the bill’s passage, reported AM New York. The bill is currently being reviewed by the Committee on Health. Would Gov. Andrew Cuomo sign it into law?
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In 2010, Cuomo took a staunch stance against medical marijuana. However, immediately after Christie put his support behind New Jersey’s program, Cuomo changed his tune.
“We’re looking at both sides of the issue…and we’re reviewing it, but we don’t have a final position,” said Cuomo.
It’s unclear where the legislature and Cuomo stand, but at a time when the state is making increasingly heavy budget cuts and experimenting with new capital funding models, government might be catching a strong whiff of the massive tax incentives the industry offers.
In California, medical marijuana is a $1.5 billion a year industry, reported the San Francisco Chronicle. California tax regulators estimate the state receives somewhere between $78 and 105 million in sales taxes annually, and a new ruling that clarifies dispensaries are not tax-exempt businesses is likely to cause those revenues to surge, reported the Los Angeles Times.
Medical marijuana dispensary's application to occupy Montclair storefront nears approval
Published: Tuesday, November 15
Finally! Something worth #OCCUPYING! -UA
MONTCLAIR — All that stands in the way of a medical marijuana dispensary in Montclair from planting its first crop is final approval from the state health department, the dispensary's CEO said today.
The Montclair Zoning Board approved an application from the Greenleaf Compassion Center to occupy a storefront on Bloomfield Avenue about two weeks ago, Greenleaf's Chief Executive Officer Joseph Stevens said. Last night, he and his partners introduced themselves and their business plan to the Township Council.
"We're ready to go from a municipal standpoint. If we were to get a permit tomorrow, we could start right away growing patients medicine,'' Stevens said. Growing marijuana and preparing it for sale would take about four months, he said.
But state officials from the Department of Health and Senior Services have not yet issued a final permit allowing Greenleaf and five other nonprofits to begin cultivating the drug, despite informing them in March they were selected from a pool of 37 applicants.
"The timetable for each Alternative Treatment Center has many variables,'' state health department spokeswoman Donna Leusner said. "Chief among them is the municipal approval processes that the ATCs are confronting in the respective localities. ... The reality is that implementing a program to grow and dispense a controlled dangerous substance is complex with unique challenges."
Montclair is the first of six medical marijuana dispensaries plan to win municipal approval. The Maple Share Zoning Board last month rejected an application from Compassionate Sciences Alternative Treatment Center to open a dispensary in town.
The dispensary in Montclair is slated to open on Bloomfield Avenue between Park Avenue and North Fullerton Street. The 1,800-square-foot space was occupied by The Inner Eye, a store that sold rolling papers and tobacco.
The story was first reported in The Montclair Times today.
Another north Jersey community has also given zoning board approval to house the growing operation, Stevens said, declining to identify the north Jersey community for security reasons.
"We receive roughly 10 to 30 phone calls a day from potential patients,'' asking when the drug will be available, Stevens said. Based on public response, Greenleaf expects to serve about 500 to 1,000 patients within the first year — much higher than the 300 or so patients they anticipated when the applied for a permit, he added.
Check Up: Temple scientists explore marijuana derivative without the high
a medical-marijuana program with stricter controls is getting under way in New Jersey.
Now, scientists at Temple University are exploring a less controversial option: providing at least one of the purported medical benefits of pot without the high.
They are looking at the properties of a marijuana extract called cannabidiol, which has anti-inflammatory and pain-relief properties but no psychoactive effects.
In a study using lab mice, the compound showed promise in preventing the kind of neuropathic pain that can result from the chemotherapy drug paclitaxel (sold as Taxol, among other brands).
Among mice that were given the chemo drug, those that also received cannabidiol were much less sensitive to pain than mice that received only chemo.
The researchers gauged the rodents' sensitivity with two tests that normally get little reaction from drug-free mice, but cause mild pain in mice on chemo.
They administered acetone to the animals' paws, which results in a cold sensation as the liquid evaporates. The scientists also prodded the paws with flexible filaments, and recorded how much pressure they had to apply before the animals pulled their paws back.
Chemo mice that had been dosed with cannabidiol responded with near-normal sensitivity, said Sara Jane Ward, a research assistant professor at Temple's School of Pharmacy.
"From what we've seen so far, it's almost a complete prevention of the onset of the neuropathic pain," said Ward, lead author of the study in the journal Anesthesia & Analgesia.
The scientists did not test the drug's ability to prevent nausea - a common use for medical marijuana. But cannabidiol has shown additional promise: Scientists have found that it can inhibit the growth of cancer cells in animals.
Still unclear is how the drug works in the body.
That has not stopped other scientists from testing it as a treatment for a diverse group of ills ranging from schizophrenia to Crohn's disease. No high required.
- Tom Avril