Pubdate: Sat, 4 Dec 2010
Source: New York Times (NY)
Page: A21
Copyright: 2010 The New York Times Company
Author: Anemona Hartocollis
Cited: Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - U.S.)


A standoff between Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and advocates
for medical marijuana has ended in a compromise that could put
marijuana on the market for seriously ill patients by next summer.

The new regulations, announced on Friday, would provide for six
growing and distribution sites for medical marijuana in various parts
of the state. The governor had wanted to limit the number of growers
to two and distribution sites to four.

But among the states that allow it, New Jersey would become the only
one to limit the amount of psychotropic chemical permitted in the marijuana.

While the Christie administration had pushed to require qualifying
patients to exhaust all other treatments before receiving medical
marijuana, the compromise applies that restriction to only three
nonfatal conditions: seizures, glaucoma and intractable muscle spasms.

Mr. Christie hailed the compromise as "the best way to move forward
on a responsible, medically based program that will avoid the
significant fraud and criminal diversion that other states have experienced."

Gov. Jon S. Corzine signed New Jersey's medical marijuana law as he
was leaving office in January, making New Jersey the 14th state to
legalize the treatment. New York and Connecticut have not.

Since then, Mr. Christie, who was skeptical of the legalization, has
been haggling with lawmakers and advocates over the particulars of
how to carry out the law.

Advocates of medical marijuana complained on Friday that despite the
compromise, the regulations continued to discourage access to the
drug: by forbidding home cultivation or delivery, and by requiring
doctors to be registered and to take a training course before they
could certify patients for treatment.

Ken Wolski, a registered nurse and chief executive officer of the
Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey, complained that doctors
also had to "attest that they've provided education for the patients
on the lack of scientific consensus for the use of medical marijuana."

"What kind of statement is that?" Mr. Wolski said. "The act found
legitimate uses for marijuana therapy in a number of specified conditions."

Patients with a number of conditions would have access to two ounces
a month with a potency of 10 percent tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC,
the psychotropic chemical. Mr. Wolski estimated that two ounces would
be enough for half of all patients, and he said pharmacies in the
Netherlands distributed potencies of 13 percent and 18 percent THC.

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