Pubdate: Tue, 01 Aug 2017
Source: Herald News (West Paterson, NJ)
Copyright: 2017 North Jersey Media Group Inc.


When it comes to the state's medical marijuana law, progress has come
in increments rather than great strides. New Jersey's Compassionate
Use Medical Marijuana Act, state law since 2010, has been implemented
ever so slowly under Gov. Chris Christie, who has never hidden his
disdain for the law.

Yet those disappointed by the snail's pace of the law, and the
establishment of new medical marijuana centers, have new reason to
take heart.

As Staff Writer Lindy Washburn reported, North Jersey will soon be
welcoming the state's largest dispensary of medical marijuana yet --
at a 10,000-square-foot facility on Meadowlands Parkway in Secaucus.
Once it opens, the dispensary plans to serve up to 4,000 patients a
month with a variety of strains of cannabis. The Christie
administration has issued a permit to grow medical marijuana to
Harmony Foundation and will consider issuing a permit to dispense
marijuana after the crop is tested later this year.

Shaya Brodchandel, Harmony's president and CEO, said the strains of
marijuana selected to be grown at the facility will be "well suited
for New Jersey medical patients' conditions and to our unique growing
system." Once the Secaucus center opens, New Jersey will have six
marijuana dispensaries, which state officials call alternative
treatment centers. The others are in Montclair, Egg Harbor,
Woodbridge, Cranbury, and Bellmawr in Camden County.

The debate over the uses of marijuana, and whether it should become
legal as a recreational drug, is ongoing in different parts of the
country, and has intensified since Colorado voted to legalize
marijuana outright and began selling it commercially in 2014. Phil
Murphy, the Democratic candidate for governor, has said he favors such
legalization in New Jersey. Meanwhile, the Legislature has begun
considering a measure to legalize recreational marijuana, which
lawmakers say could generate as much as $300 million in tax revenue.

We have been hesitant to endorse such a plan, and believe that many
other considerations should come into play besides tax revenue. We
also understand that such a dramatic change in state law would have an
immediate impact on how and where medical marijuana centers are
allowed to open and operate.

Those who championed the medical marijuana law signed by Gov. Jon
Corzine in one of his last acts in office had every right to believe
the program would be further along than it is today. Having just five
dispensaries open for a state of 8.8 million people does not represent
the intent of the law. What's more, Ken Wolski, the head of the
Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey, said medical marijuana in
New Jersey is the most expensive in the country.

In short, the law's implementation has come too slowly for people in
the state who may be suffering from terminal cancer, multiple
sclerosis or other illnesses, people who believed medical marijuana
would become readily available to help alleviate their pain. For these
people, and others, the opening of the center in Secaucus will be a
godsend, even if it has been far too late in coming.
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