garden state dispensary
By Steve Elliott
When New Jersey's medical marijuana law was being written and passed, it was often boasted that it was "the strictest in the nation," as if serving fewer patients was somehow something to brag about. Now, after initial predictions that the program could serve tens of thousands of patients, only 2,342 have signed up, a participation rate so small some worry about the future of the program.
Lawmakers, some dispensary operators and patients blame the low enrollment on New Jersey's strict rules, high costs for both patients and growers, and Governor Chris Christie's barely concealed hostility to the program, including his contention that he doesn't need to do anything to boost participation, reports Susan K. Livio at The Star-Ledger.
One major roadblock, according to almost everyone involved, is that so few physicians in New Jersey are willing to authorize patients for medical marijuana.
"We have a dysfunctional program, and I think it's going to take some sort of 'pot summit' bringing together patients, doctors and legislators to really make this a success," said Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer), one of the lead sponsors of the law.
By Steve Elliott
New Jersey’s medical marijuana program has suffered from numerous delays. There were controversies over the state’s vetting process, over the lack of traditional bank financing, over the reluctance of doctors to participate, and over the unwillingness of many local officials to host a dispensary in their town. But the state's third medical marijuana access point, Garden State Dispensary, finally opened on Wednesday.
The facility occupies an old electronics store between shopping centers and a car dealership in Woodbridge, reports Susan K. Livio at The Star-Ledger. Wednesday's grand opening was largely ceremonial; the owners and staff had a "soft opening" on November 22, according to Yale Galanter, the dispensary's lawyer and spokesman.
From the trial launch through 4 p.m. on Wednesday, 430 patients had bought medical marijuana from Garden State Dispensary, according to Galanter. Starting on Thursday, the shop will serve 40 patients a day, he said.
Michael Weisser, Garden State's Florida-based chief operating officer, also runs eight medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado along with his son, David. He said his goal was to serve all 1,500 of New Jersey's medical marijuana patients, many of whom have waited more than a year for safe access.