Pubdate: Mon, 11 Oct 2010
Source: Daily Journal, The (Vineland, NJ)
Copyright: 2010 Daily Journal
Author: Bob Ingle
Cited: Drug Policy Alliance New Jersey
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - U.S.)


It's time we leave medical decisions up to medical personnel, since 
there is nothing in their makeup that equips bureaucrats to 
understand the needs of people in distress.

New Jersey released proposed regulations for medical marijuana use 
and the emphasis is not on helping the chronically and terminally 
ill. Certainly, we don't want a law meant to help the needy used as a 
way to get pot for fun, but adjustments have to be made.

Sen. Nick Scutari, D-Union, shares the concern. He sponsored the 
legislation and has a problem with changes made after his bill was 
signed into law. "I don't want them rewriting my law," he told a 
reporter. "That's not right."

The state Health Department was supposed to issue up to six 
dispensaries to grow and sell medical marijuana with sites in 
northern, central and southern parts of the state. Instead, the state 
will license two growers who will supply four dispensaries.

That raises a lot of questions. Can two growers meet the demand? And 
how far will people have to go to get help? When you're sick enough 
to need medical pot, it's not like you feel like running around the state.

The administration also has moved the start-up date to July 1, 2011.

"It might not be a viable business model," said Roseanne Scott, the 
New Jersey director of the Drug Policy Alliance.

"You've limited the number of people who can get medical marijuana, 
you've limited the amount they can get. It will be interesting to see 
if anybody actually applies and thinks they can run one of these things."

The AP looked at the proposed rules and interviewed advocates who 
said they are more strict than regulations used in 13 other states 
that allow medical marijuana. For instance, patients would have to 
pay $200 every two years for a card giving them the right to buy it. 
That money and the $20,000 annual fee for the treatment centers would 
pay for state oversight.

Patients could only get marijuana prescriptions from doctors with 
whom they have an ongoing relationship or who take responsibility for 
their conditions.

Let's say we have a middle-aged man who hates going to the doctor, 
which seems to affect a lot of men. He finally gives in and gets a 
diagnosis of cancer and is scheduled for chemo and radiation. Is that 
an ongoing relationship?

Chris Goldstein with the Medical Marijuana in New Jersey organization 
said, "I can say these regulations reflect far more politics than 
they do science."

There are those who think the politics behind this is to make it so 
inconvenient that patients will stay with prescription drugs, which 
are a big business in this state. In fact, Gov. Chris Christie's 
chief of staff came from drug giant Pfizer.

I've heard all the arguments about high-priced prescription drugs 
being just as effective, and I'm here to tell you it is low-grade 
horse manure. Twice in my life circumstances resulted in my being 
responsible for two dear friends with terminal illness.

I have watched enough suffering to last me to the end of time. I have 
seen the anti-nausea drugs get vomited up. I have heard people cry 
out for me to do something, anything, in the middle of the night 
because the pain pills stopped working. Have you watched people you 
love waste away because they just have no appetite? You don't want to.

If patients are discouraged from getting medical marijuana the legal 
way, they can continue to get it the old-fashioned illegal way, thus 
supporting unsavory characters and putting people at risk.

This proposed system is too complex and too unsympathetic to people 
who need help. There is a six-month period to evaluate and change it. 
That's way too long and an unnecessary delay proposed by people who 
are healthy, obviously.

If the administration can't be sympathetic and understand we're 
talking about real suffering people, not numbers on paper, then the 
Legislature should step in and tell the bureaucracy to go to hell.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake