(TRENTON) — Legislation Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer) introduced to extend the implementation of the state’s new medical marijuana law until Oct. 1 was released Thursday by an Assembly panel.
The bill (A-3054) comes in response to Gov. Chris Christie’s request for a delay to get the first medical marijuana dispensaries operating.
“No one, least of all me, wants to see delays,” Gusciora said. “Patients have been waiting for this relief and my original hope was to have it out to them by the end of this summer.”
The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, was signed into law in January and gave the Department of Health and Senior Services to set up patient registries and an additional three months to finalize marijuana distribution.
Gusciora agreed to the October 1st date as more of a realistic starting date.
“I think the Legislature should also take this opportunity to consider the governor’s proposal to include hospitals as dispensaries as well as Rutgers University as the place where the marijuana can be grown,” continued Gusciora. “While we should continue to move forward in implementing the legislation, adding hospitals and Rutgers into the mix could very well make a good law better.”
Thirteen other states have legalized medical marijuana, and New Jersey’s law is the most restrictive and responsible.
According to Gusciora, other states have had problems reining their programs in to control the huge growth of such dispensaries and clinics.
“While I would have preferred fast tracking the law, at the end of the day, we want to ensure patients who can benefit from medicinal marijuana can readily access it,” Gusciora said.
Gusciora also noted that Rutgers University could become a national academic leader in marijuana research and curriculum.
One such benefit could be patent rights from the development of new strains and treatments for medicinal marijuana. Students could also learn everything from pain management strategies to running a dispensary.
“I want to see our patients get what they need for relief,” Gusciora said. “I also want to see New Jersey become a model for federal legislation in terms of medical marijuana. The only way we can do that is by making sure we are implementing it the right way ourselves.”
The bill was released 7-0-2 by the Assembly Budget Committee and is expected to be voted on Monday by the full Assembly.
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