NJ OKed Medical Pot in '10 —but It's Still Not for Sale

'WSJ' looks at state's struggle to implement medical marijuana program
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 27, 2012 11:19 AM CST
NJ OKed Medical Pot in '10 —but It's Still Not for Sale
In this Feb. 1, 2011 file photo, medical marijuana clone plants are shown at a medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland, Calif.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

(Newser) – Opposition to pot dispensaries around New Jersey is slowing the rollout of medical marijuana there, and officials say the first doctor-prescribed doobies won't be available until the end of the year at the earliest, reports the Wall Street Journal. So how long has the wait been? The New Jersey legislature voted to allow marijuana for medical reasons in January 2010, but some towns' decision to deny would-be dispensaries approval isn't the only issue. The state is also trying to set up a complicated system of safeguards to ensure recreational users can't get their hands on the goods.

"It has to be well-monitored so it doesn't become the Wild, Wild West," says the director of the state's program. Still, "it's a frustrating program in many ways," adds the commissioner of the Department of Health and Senior Services. "We're talking about building a whole new program, from the ground up, for an illegal product." But it looks like the Greenleaf Compassion Center in Montclair could indeed open this year, having received local approval, and five other would-be dispensaries seem promising. In the meantime, patients are running out of patience. Greenleaf's president says his agency fields as many as 30 calls a day from would-be customers. (Read more New Jersey stories.)

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