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(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Reed Gusciora that would declare the Christie administration’s draft regulations for New Jersey’s medicinal marijuana law as inconsistent with the law’s intent was approved 48-22-7 Monday by the Assembly.
The bill (ACR-151) now goes to the Senate later Monday for more consideration.
As a legislative resolution, it does not require the governor’s signature.
Rather, it would give the state health and senior services commissioner 30 days to revise the proposed medical marijuana rules for the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act.
“The name of the law includes the word compassion,” said Gusciora (D-Mercer). “I do not believe that these regulations exemplify that word. We are looking at regulations with fewer distribution centers, fewer ways for the patient to ingest marijuana and an ever longer wait time. Quite simply, they’re unacceptable and must be changed.”
Under the state’s procedure, the executive branch would have 30 days to amend or withdraw the proposed rules. If it does not, either house of the Legislature can hold a public hearing on the invalidation of the proposed rules.
A transcript is then created and placed on the desks of the members of each house.
The Legislature can then adopt a second concurrent resolution to invalidate the proposed rules as of 20 days after the transcript was placed on the members’ desks.
Gusciora sponsored the law approved in January making New Jersey the 14th state to allow medical marijuana for conditions such as epilepsy, intractable skeletal muscular spasticity, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy or inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease.
“New Jersey already has the strictest medical marijuana laws in the nation,” Gusciora said. “The Governor’s proposed regulations unfortunately make it an impossible standard to meet for the many ill patients needing relief.”
The resolution notes the Legislature’s concern with the proposed rules, including requiring physicians to certify that each patient seeking to medical marijuana has not responded to conventional medical treatment, even though the statute requires that only seizure disorders, intractable muscle spasticity and glaucoma be resistant to conventional medical therapy to qualify as a debilitating medical condition.
Gusciora said the Legislature intended that certain conditions be eligible without any additional requirement.
The act provides that the Department of Health and Senior Services may add other medical conditions under the act , but the proposed rules would delay consideration of adding other medical conditions and treatments until the department has completed at least two annual reports to the Governor and Legislature.
Other issues addressed include the number of alternative treatment centers throughout the state and prohibitions on an entity designated as an “alternative treatment center–dispensary” from cultivating marijuana and an entity designated as an “alternative treatment center–plant cultivation” from dispensing directly to patients.
Additionally, the concurrent resolution addresses the issue of the rules setting a maximum limit on the permissible levels of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that medical marijuana may contain.
“I believe that the patient should have the option in choosing a form of the drug that is most suitable for their own personal environment,” Gusciora said. “The purpose of this legislation is to make this drug accessible in order to treat patients where traditional medicines have not worked. It is unconscionable to make these patients wait any longer.”