Pubdate: Sat, 17 Jul 2010
Source: Record, The (Hackensack, NJ)
Copyright: 2010 Ken Wolski
Author: Ken Wolski


Last month, the Legislature delayed medical marijuana access and
floated a new concept for the program: Rutgers University could be
named as the sole source for all medical cannabis cultivation and the
marijuana would be distributed only by hospitals.

Patients could access marijuana at hospitals, to be sure, and Rutgers
University certainly has the capability of farming medical cannabis.
But the university's Boards of Directors and attorneys would be
hard-pressed to take on the one thing that private businesses already
do: risk.

New Jersey hospitals and Rutgers University have not fully examined
their federal liabilities. None of those entities have committed
themselves to putting their assets on the line for sick and dying patients.

Thirteen states have medical marijuana programs in which private
business owners take on the tremendous risk presented by the federal
prohibition. Any one of several authorities could seize their
properties and assets at any given moment. The owners and employees of
medical cannabis businesses also take on the risk of federal arrest.

There are groups of private citizens ready to get New Jersey's program
running. But New Jersey's medical cannabis patient advocacy groups and
others interested in offering information about the medical marijuana
program have not been afforded the same opportunities to meet with
"key players" that Rutgers and the New Jersey Council of Teaching
Hospitals have enjoyed. The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical
Marijuana Act currently calls for the initial licensing of six,
private alternative treatment centers around the state. Patients can
only gain legal protections by purchasing marijuana from an authorized

The state Department of Health and Senior Services is currently
scheduled to begin the regulatory process in October and bring the
medical cannabis program online starting in January 2011.

Ken Wolski

Trenton, July 12

The writer, a registered nurse, is executive director of the Coalition
for Medical Marijuana -- New Jersey Inc. 
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