BLOGGER HTML TEMPLATE AS OF 4/15/16 BEFORE REDIRECTION TO WORDPRESS New Amsterdam Psychedelic Law Blog: June 2010

Sunday, June 27, 2010

NY Times article on Colorado market

In case you have not seen it, here is the New York Times feature article on the medical marijuana market in Colorado.

I have just started reading the new Colorado statute, since I have been focusing on events here in the Northeast, but from what I have seen so far it is a fascinating mix of approaches. It's a four-way split: (a) it divides authority over the market between the taxing authority and the health department and (b) it splits jurisdiction between the state and local governments.

First, the statute creates a "state licensing authority" within the Colorado Department of Revenue, not the health department. This tax authority body regulates the dispensaries, i.e. the supply side. (Anyone with a long-enough memory will remember that federal drug control was originally based on the Constitutional taxing authority before the Controlled Substances Act hung it on the Interstate Commerce Clause.) The health department retains authority over patients and caregivers, i.e. the demand side.

It also splits authority between the state and local government.
Further comments to follow, time permitting.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

NJ legislature allows only a limited amendment to the state's medical marijuana law

Chris Goldstein of Philadelphia NORML reported that the NJ legislature has granted only a minor amendment to the NJ medical marijuana law.

If so, then the legislature did not acquiesce in Governor Christie's proposal to eviscerate the law by allowing only Rutgers University to cultivate cannabis and allowing only hospitals to dispense to patients.

Instead the Legislature simply extended the effective date of the law from July 1, 2010, to October 1, 2010 - presumably to give the Department of Health and Senior Services more time in which to promulgate the overdue regulations that are necessary to enable patients, manufacturers, and distributors to become licensed.

Open question #1: how will legislative proponents and advocates ensure that the executive branch meets this new, adjourned deadline, which was necessitated by the executive branch's initial failure to comply with the law?

Open question #2: what will advocates do in New York now that the City of New York and the Governor have come out against medical marijuana?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bloomberg and Brennan come out against NY medical marijuana law

As discussed in my post from this past Saturday, New York City Special Narcotics Prosecutor, Bridget Brennan, has publicly stated opposition to the proposed medical marijuana bill now pending in the New York State legislature.

I wondered if Brennan's position represents an authentic statement of New York City's position on the bill. Apparently it does: as I read it, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's denunciation of the medical marijuana bill on Friday announced an open campaign against the bill by the massive government apparatus called The City of New York - and opened the door to Brennan's statement.

Bloomberg's statements on Friday, June 18 categorically denounced the idea of medical marijuana. Like Brennan, Bloomberg completely misconstrued the proposed law to a degree indicating either actual ignorance or willful ignorance of the law's provisions and proposed operation.

Elements of the City's Argument
Let's call them the "City ." The City has opposed the bill on the following grounds, according to news reports [I hope to obtain official versions of the alleged statements]:

A. Brennan:
1. Dispensaries cause crime [public safety concerns: crime, quality of life, nuisance]
2. The marijuana could be laced [public health argument: product purity]
3. There should be a requirement that physicians actually examine the patients [delegitimization of the healthcare sector: impugning the integrity of health care practitioners]

B. Bloomberg
4. California's experience has not been good [suggests a quantitative/qualitative analysis of data available for review and challenge]
5. Medical marijuana is a fraud: it is simply a decoy - the Trojan Horse, if you will - for legalization [overt adoption of ideological position]
6. If you want to debate legalization, then debate legalization [the only socially productive statement by the City, but disingenuous in context]
7. This is not really about medicine [see number 5 above]
8. Marijuana is more potent these days [another public health argument: suggesting deference to healthcare professionals but actually adopting federal police reasoning for continuing cannabis prohibition; in context, deference to federal rationale implies wholesale, uncritical acceptance of the entire federal position - needs investigation]
9. It may lead to use of harder drugs [gateway/addiction theory - see number 8, above]
10. "I think it's a terrible idea" [overt adoption of IDEOLOGICAL OPPOSITION to THE IDEA that there could be a therapeutic use of cannabis in its entirety]

There is one fundamental flaw in the City's analysis: it has no idea what the bill provides. Since it has no idea what the bill provides, it cannot assess the utility of referring to the experience of California, another state with another law and another history, to the possible consequences of the proposed New York law.

The bill, essentially, requires state licensing of the supply-side of the marijuana market prior to anyone entering that market.
The bill assigns authority to the State Department of Health to administer the statute. The Department of Health. Not the Attorney General. Not a police commissioner. Not a municipal prosecutor of major drug trafficking crimes. Not the mayor of a city, no matter how large or influential. What the City is saying, without saying it, in bureaucratic language, is that the City considers the State Department of Health to be incompetent and unable to administer the statute properly.

Fundamentally, the task at hand is to assign regulatory authority over psychoactive substances to administrative agencies other than the police. That's what this bill would do with regard to certain uses of marijuana. The Department of Health will have discretion to register an applicant for patient status (i.e. by issuing a registry identification care - basically a license to buy, possess, and use cannabis) or deny the application. The Department of State will grant or deny applications for registration by prospective suppliers. Everyone must be registered by the state before entering the market. Is this part of the scheme what's bothering Mike Bloomberg? Excessive market regulation?

The New York statute differs qualitatively from the California model

The proposed New York bill is part of a major evolution in the history of state medical marijuana laws. I call the regulatory systems that have emerged in this evolution "second generation" laws. First generation laws, the type of law that appeared in California in 1996 and in Colorado in 2000 (and in most of the other "medical marijuana" states), protect patients, more or less. The first generation model does not even purport to govern the supply side. In California and Colorado, dispensaries just sprout like mushrooms after a rain: they open up for business at will, since they are unregulated, leaving the cities to chase after them and try to shut them down one by one or ban them categorically within the city limits.

The second generation laws channel all power through the state executive branch - the medical bureaucracy. This branch of the bureaucracy licenses the participants in the supply side and the demand side of the market.

Neither Brennan nor Bloomberg indicated any familiarity with the principles which I describe above. They didn't even offer a shred of evidence to support their positions, to the extent that any of them are factual. While Brennan stayed objective in her posture, Bloomberg simply stated his personal, uninformed belief that the entire concept of medical marijuana is a bad idea.
He did suggest that we debate legalization. If he wants that debate he should first acquire a fundamental understanding of how drug control works.

The State of New York endorsed medical marijuana thirty years ago.

The irony is that New York was one of the national pioneers in medical marijuana. New York State enacted a medical marijuana program back in 1980 under the guidance of State Senator Antonio G. Olivieri. Article 33-A of the New York State Public Health Law provides for a medical marijuana program operated by the Department of Health.
Under the program:
1. The Department of Health administers the program as a "research program" through hospitals
2. Participation is limited to cancer patients, glaucoma patients, and "patients afflicted with other diseases as such diseases are approved by the commissioner," i.e., the Health Commissioner has discretion to determine what other medical uses marijuana might have.
3. Patient qualification review boards evaluate patient applications for participation in the program.
4. The statute does not create a mechanism for supplying the marijuana.
5. The statute requires that the Department of Health apply to the federal Food and Drug Administration for approval of the program (i.e., that the Commissioner submit an Investigative New Drug application).

Of course, the Olivieri Medical Marijuana Law that sits in the statute book differs dramatically from the current statutes in place around the United States, including New Jersey, and the one proposed for New York. It was enacted sixteen years prior to Proposition 215, the California voter initiative that constituted a populist uprising against federal marijuana prohibition. (Proposition 215 was the breakthrough that opened the door to medical marijuana statutes everywhere; it created a defense for patients but not for distributors, and that is the model for completely unregulated entry into the market by suppliers in the majority of medical marijuana states).

It is worth noting the Olivieri Medical Marijuana Law's "legislative findings":

"The legislature finds that recent research has shown that the use of marijuana may alleviate the nausea and ill-effects of cancer chemotherapy, may alleviate the ill-effects of glaucoma and may have other therapeutic uses. The legislature further finds that there is a need for further research and experimentation with regard to the use of marijuana for therapeutic purposes under strictly controlled circumstances. It is for such research programs that  controlled substances therapeutic research act is hereby enacted."

In other words, the State of New York is on record with the position that marijuana can have therapeutic uses; the practical question is how to make it available.

To repeat, existing New York state law provides for a "research program" in which cancer patients, glaucoma patients, and other patients which the Department approves will receive marijuana from a hospital. That law is a dead letter, and I am willing to venture that it was doomed for failure from conception because (a) it attempted to enlist hospitals as the distribution mechanism and (b) it required an interface with the federal government. Involving the federal government is obviously the kiss of death for any medical marijuana program or initiative since the immense bureaucracy called the "United States Government" does not recognize any use of marijuana whatsoever by anyone for any purpose - upon pain of criminal penalty. The effective state laws therefore disregard the federal government entirely; they do not recognize federal regulation of this field except to try to avoid overt conflicts with federal law where possible.

(Incidentally, I presume that the foregoing inherent problem with operating through hospitals is the reason why New Jersey Governor Chris Christie proposed that NJ's medical marijuana program be operated exclusively through hospitals - that requirement should functionally kill the law or at least delay any implementation of the law any time soon.)

The burden of proof is upon the City of New York to explain its opposition to the proposed medical marijuana law. Possible means of succeeding in its argument are (a) reading the law and/or (b) presenting factual evidence in support of its claims. The burden of proof is particularly heavy since the State of New York endorsed the utility of conducting a medical marijuana distribution ("research") program thirty years ago. Perhaps the City would be most helpful in stating affirmatively what type of medical marijuana market it would prefer to see operate within the city limits.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

More on how the executive branch can prevent implementation of a medical marijuana law - NJ Governor wants to dispense only through hospitals

This article from Friday explains a lot about what is happening in NJ. Basically, according to the article and - as usual - I have not yet seen the text of the actual proposal by the State - Governor Chris Christie wants to eliminate the ability of nonprofit dispensaries to participate in the supply-side of the medical marijuana market. Instead he wants all dispensing through hospitals.

I speculated in my article on the NY medical marijuana bill that no hospital would want to dispense marijuana because marijuana is completely prohibited under federal law so NO ONE, including a hospital, may legally dispense it - under federal law. The state medical marijuana laws provide a defense to criminal prosecution for marijuana cultivation, distribution, purchase, possession, and use. Any collective that is not registered with or otherwise interfacing with the federal government presumably has little worry in terms of retribution by the federal (except perhaps the occasional DEA raid). However, hospitals are generally dependent on medicaid reimbursement and could be penalized for violating federal law. Does anyone know hospital law well? Offhand, what are the other means through which the federal government funds/controls hospitals?
Did the State consider the possibility that it is setting up hospitals for a direct conflict with federal law if they wish to dispense cannabis - and therefore no hospital will choose to participate?

Further as Chris Goldstein noted, the proposal that Rutgers University cultivate all the marijuana for the state program potentially implicates the same part of the Controlled Substances Act that has allowed the University of Mississippi to maintain a monopoly on the legal manufacture and distribution of marijuana in the United States, as evidenced in Dr. Lyle Craker's litigation against the DEA.

Anyway, this move by the Governor clearly demonstrates an intention to limit severely the scope and nature of the market - by effectively institutionalizing it deep within the health care bureaucracy. My question for the Governor is the same question which I pose to Bridget Brennan, the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the City of New York [who came out against the New York bill suspiciously close to the time of Governor Christie's announcement]:

- What is your basis for concluding that there should be no direct-to-public dispensation of cannabis by corporate entities?
- What is the evidentiary support for the claim that dispensaries create crime?
- What is the reason for stating that only hospitals should be permitted to dispense cannabis - and did you investigate the possibility that the federal government might take action to prevent any dispensing of cannabis by a hospital?

NYC prosecutor criticizes proposed New York medical marijuana law

Various news sources, including the New York Post and MSNBC, have reported that Bridget Brennan, the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for New York City, has stated her opposition to the proposed medical marijuana law. I have not yet seen the actual text of the letter, but the news reports suggest a willful misreading of the proposed law.

Brennan's opposition appears to particularize to three issues: (a) the threat of uncontrolled spread of dispensaries, (b) the lack of any mechanism of testing the cannabis - which could be laced with other substances, and (c) the lack of any requirement that a prospective patient meet with a physician.

I ask why the matter of a proposed medical marijuana law is relevant to the office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor the function of which is prosecuting major drug crimes.

Uncontrolled spread of dispensaries
As to (a), which includes the statement that dispensaries have become magnets for crime in other states, this statement appears to be entirely disingenuous, unless Brennan actually intends to say that the state Department of Health is incompetent. The fundamental point of the second generation laws is to require that supply-side market participants obtain licenses from the state before commencing operation. Under the statute, those applications must include the proposed address of the dispensary. Therefore the Department of Health implicitly possesses discretion to determine whether a dispensary is appropriate for the area in which it proposes to operate. This comment by Brennan seems to repeat the classic formula of drug control, which is the claim by law enforcement that it and only it can be trusted to regulate controlled substances - in this case because the Department of Health cannot responsibly process dispensary applications.

At the outset, therefore, it borders on nonsense to compare the proposed regulatory scheme with, e.g. California or the old system in Colorado (which is now in flux), since ALL NY DISPENSARIES MUST OBTAIN STATE APPROVAL PRIOR TO DOING BUSINESS.

Having said that, it may be appropriate to work in to the scheme some kind of local comment or participation in the location of dispensaries. Should there be local public hearings and comments on proposed dispensary applications? Should the dispensaries be treated by like bars or like pharmacies? A provision of the law allowing for local participation in the process would make the New York law more a hybrid between the NJ/RI model, in which regulation occurs at the state level, and the California model, in which local governments regulate dispensaries. However, while this may be a valid question, it is not apparent to me why it is any more an appropriate question for the Special Narcotics Prosecutor than the issuance of a liquor license to a nightclub or licensing of a pharmacy.

Testing of cannabis
As to (b), why is it any business of the Narcotics Prosecutor as to whether the law requires purity testing of the merchandise? Is this not a matter for the Department of Health to consider as a basis for revoking an offending dispensary's registration - or denying a renewal application? Is this not, in the alternative, a matter for the Department of Consumer Affairs? Again, we see the classic pattern of law enforcement claiming a monopoly over the ability to regulate psychoactive substances (other than alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine) to the exclusion of any executive branch administrative agency.

As to (c), again, why does the Narcotics Prosecutor presume to comment on the practice of medicine unless to say that the state Office of Professional Medical Conduct will be incompetent to do its job? Why should the legislature need to write in to the bill that a prospective patient meet with a physician?

I ask:

- What is the evidentiary support for the Special Narcotics Prosecutor's claim that dispensaries create crime?

- The function of the New York City Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor is major drug trafficking. Why is the Prosecutor presuming to comment on a proposed medical marijuana law to be administered by the New York State Department of Health?

As stated above, I have not yet seen the actual text of the letter and I will attempt to refine my comments as necessary after I see it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New Jersey: a new form of struggle

I think that this article about the spreading legal war in Colorado, city-by-city, over whether to ban cannabis dispensaries demonstrates well the difference between the first generation medical marijuana laws and the second generation that is taking root here on the East Coast.

The California/Colorado model fails to provide explicitly for regulation of the supply side. The Rhode Island/New Jersey/New York model does provide for regulation of the supply side - by requiring that a prospective supplier obtain a license to do business for beginning operations. The upside is that regulation starts with the state, a sovereign superior to the localities; therefore, the localities must regulate the dispensaries around the state laws, which take precedence and guarantee the existence of dispensaries - optimally even approving specifically the location of the dispensaries. The downside of this model appears when the State fails to permit the suppliers to begin operations - such as in New Jersey where the state government (Department of Health and Senior Services - an administrative agency in the executive branch) has simply failed to enact the regulations that would allow prospective suppliers to begin applying for business licenses. Since the law restricts all manufacture and distribution to government-licensed entities - and prohibits individual patient or caregiver - this failure to permit the registration process to begin effectively prevents the creation of a legal medical marijuana market, notwithstanding the will of the legislature.

Medical Marijuana Press Conference in Jersey City on 6/17

From the website for the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey:

MEDIA ADVISORY
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
6/14/2010

The Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey (CMMNJ)
www.cmmnj.org

Medical Marijuana Press Conference in Jersey City on 6/17
City officials work on guidelines; patients, professionals seek timely regulations

On Thursday, June 17, 2010 at 1 PM, New Jersey medical marijuana advocacy groups will hold a press conference in front of City Hall in Jersey City.

Local cannabis policy experts are working closely with Jersey City officials to create municipal guidelines for the placement of an Alternative Treatment Center. The second largest city in New Jersey is seeking to welcome local, non-profit medical marijuana providers once they can be licensed for operation.

"Guidelines in Jersey City and other towns will assure a local infrastructure is ready for regulated cannabis facilities to serve patients as quickly as possible," said CMMNJ/NORMLNJ advocate Chris Goldstein

Last month a request was made by Governor Christie for a six to twelve month extension on the issuance of the medical marijuana program regulations. The extension would require additional legislation.

The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act was signed into law January, 11 2010. As passed, the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) was to issue draft regulations in July. Patients are anticipating access to a running program by the fall.

CMMNJ and NORML-NJ do not see any need for a delay.

Ken Wolski, a Registered Nurse and Executive Director of CMMNJ said, “If the DHSS cannot write these regulations in 6 months, there is no guarantee they will be able to write them in 18 months. Patients are suffering as they continue to wait for the program.”

Anne M. Davis, Executive Director of NORML-NJ said, “This is a law and there are no exceptions. There are patients with chronic or even terminal illnesses that cannot get an extension on life.”

The 6/17/10 press conference will feature brief statements along with a Q&A.

Speakers will include potential medical marijuana patients, medical professionals and supporters of the new law who will address the proposed delay in implementing the state's therapeutic cannabis program.

Media may contact:
Ken Wolski: ohamkrw@aol.com (609) 394-2137
Anne Davis: law@annemdavis.com (732) 477-4700
Chris Goldstein: media@cmmnj.org

WHAT: Medical marijuana press conference
WHERE: Jersey City, NJ – In front of City Hall – 280 Grove Street, Jersey City, NJ 07302
WHEN: June 17, 2010 at 1:00 PM
WHY: Timely implementation of New Jersey’s medical marijuana law, local ATC guidelines

Monday, June 14, 2010

Litigation coming in NJ over Governor's intention to delay?

Here is a statement from the press conference by the Coalition for Medical Marijuana - New Jersey indicating that New Jersey medical marijuana advocates will be going to court to force the governor to move forward in implementing the medical marijuana law. The specific issue at hand, apparently, is the State's refusal to allow patients to cultivate their own cannabis during the lag time until the State promulgates regulations governing the dispensaries. Since New York's statute follows New Jersey's in omitting any provision for patient cultivation, this situation looks highly significant in the event that the NY bill passes and is signed into law.

CMMNJ's main page shows the text of the following email from the NJ Department of Health and Senior Services:

From: Medical.Marijuana@doh.state.nj.us

At this time, the Department is not reviewing proposals or receiving documents, nor is the Department meeting with potential vendors, advocacy groups, lobbyists or other interested parties to present business plans, strategies or offers of assistance. Given the large numbers and diverse recommendations, we believe this is the best way to assure an objective, science based strategy.

As you are aware, medical marijuana is not available in the state of New Jersey. The Department must first establish a process to register qualified patients, caregivers and alternate treatment centers. This includes the continuation of coordinated implementation strategies amongst all state agencies to ensure all issues are addressed adequately. Full implementation of the New Jersey Compassionate Use of Marijuana Act awaits completion of this mandated process, which will assure the intent of the Act is accessible to those patients with designated medical conditions, while ensuring that it is implemented in a safe and effective manner.

For additional information regarding this topic, please visit our website at www.nj.gov/health for the most current information about the implementation of the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, including frequently asked questions.


(I haven't actually found it at the State's website but then I didn't search too hard.)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

L.A. City Council action to limit dispensaries

See the recent article on L.A.'s move to shut down dispensaries. Query whether this approach is possible in a jurisdiction in which the state government approves applications to open dispensaries - and those applications specify the address of the dispensary, meaning that the state government has already approved operation of the dispensary at a particular location.

I assume that the experiences of L.A. and San Francisco are the most relevant to New York; after all, can you contemplate Manhattan with dispensaries? How about one in Times Square and one on St Mark's Place? I can see the neighborhood associations and City Council going wild. Maybe people in the West Village won't mind location of a dispensary within their neighborhood, but i assume that there will be resistance everywhere else.

Carl Olsen's litigation in Iowa

Thanks to Buford Terrell for directing my attention to Carl Olsen's litigation in Iowa to compel the Iowa Board of Pharmacy to reclassify cannabis. I have only begun reading the documents at the Iowans for Medical Marijuana website but from what I have seen so far, the essential argument is that "medical use" is defined under STATE law, as opposed to FEDERAL law, and that the enactment of medical marijuana laws throughout the United States demonstrates that there is a currently accepted medical use of cannabis in the United States.

This issue goes to the heart of Schedule I and, therefore, all of U.S. drug control - the legal conclusion that there is no medical use of cannabis or, for that matter, any of the Schedule I psychedelics. The "medical use" issue is the fundamental battleground of the war and Carl is occupying that space.
It is fascinating for numerous reasons, including federalism as well as the assignment to federal police of the authority to determine what is a medicine.

I hope to present a more thorough treatment of the litigation but I invite others to review the material and offer their analyses.

Monday, June 7, 2010

N.J. Advocates threaten legal action if Governor delays issuing regulations

Another article on the status of medical marijuana in New Jersey. Exciting for litigators.

TRENTON -- Legal and medical marijuana advocates say they are gearing
up for a court fight if the Legislature relents and gives Gov. Chris
Christie the potentially year-long delay he wants before making the
drug legally available to chronically ill patients.

The New Jersey chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of
Marijuana Laws is "ready to fight the state of New Jersey," said Anne
Davis, executive director and attorney from Brick. She spoke to a
gathering of about 40 protesters and journalists outside the
Statehouse today. "We will not accept any delay."

Click on the link above for the full article


Pubdate: Fri, 4 Jun 2010
Source: Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ)
Webpage:
http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/06/legal_medical_marijuana_advoca.html
Copyright: 2010 Newark Morning Ledger Co
Contact: eletters@starledger.com
Website: http://www.nj.com/starledger/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/424
Author: Susan K. Livio, Statehouse Bureau
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/find?253 (Cannabis - Medicinal - U.S.)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Anticipating the opening of the New Jersey dispensaries

A recent article describes the preparations for enactment of regulations that will govern dispensaries in NJ. Following are excerpts from the article describing the supply side under the NJ statute.

The article gives highlights of the statute and indicates how it differs from and resembles the proposed NY law.
First, it prescribes a set list of conditions approved for patients use. This provision differs from New York.
Second, it limits the amount which a patient can possess to 2 oz., similar to New York (maximum 2.5 oz.).
Third, no individual cultivation - like New York.

Note the statement that California operators are looking to get in on the New Jersey action.
Presumably we will see the same thing in New York if the bill is enacted.

Note the reference to zoning laws. As I see it, one immediate question for litigators in New York is going to be whether State approval of a registry application for a dispensary will protect a dispensary from adverse action by local government - since the application will specify the address of the dispensary.

It is also worth noting that the New Jersey statute has a residency requirement for patients. There is no such provision in the New York bill; perhaps the Department of Health will add a regulation to that effect. Does anyone know whether that kind of provision is within the scope of an administrative agency's authority under New York law? If not, I will be researching it myself.

Note also the reference to massage services, accupuncture and yoga classes. These services indicate a "clinic/spa" model as opposed to the pharmacy/package store model or the tavern/cafe model. The clinic/spa model seems to me to offer the greatest scope of opportunity for other occupations to participate in the medical marijuana market - as incidental service providers.


HIGH HOPES FOR BUSINESS FOLK PLANNING NJ POT SALES

...Another of the likely marijuana provider applicants in New Jersey is Anne M. Davis, a lawyer who also consults with several people interested in opening treatment centers.

She says she's hearing from current drug dealers who want to go legit, caregivers who already procure marijuana for the sick, and career changers-especially commercial real estate agents who have fallen on slow times. Some of the dispensaries in California, where medical marijuana laws are less restrictive, are looking into opening branches here, Davis said.

There are people with smart business plans and people experienced with growing the plants-illegally of course.

"They think, 'Hey, I'm going to open this great business and I'm going to make a fortune,'" Davis said. "But that's not what it's going to be. It's going to be very strictly regulated in New Jersey."

Those regulations are not yet written, and Gov. Chris Christie, who says he supports the medical marijuana bill, is trying to win a delay to give his administration extra time to write them.

Still, the state's new law offers a glimpse at how the clinics will operate.

It requires at least six nonprofit groups be given the first licenses. They must be spread around the state. Subsequent clinics could be for-profit.

Unlike other states, New Jersey will not allow patients to grow their own. Instead, that will be handled by the centers that distribute marijuana. Patients will be tracked and allowed to buy only 2 ounces per month.

Only doctors who have ongoing relationships with the patients will be able to approve marijuana use for them. Only people with certain medical conditions will be allowed to use. Cancer, glaucoma and any prognosis that gives the patient less that a year to live are on the list; headaches are not.

Bays and another potential treatment center operator, Joseph Stevens, both say they would have their growing operations located away from the treatment centers for security reasons. Their business plans call for growing indoors so that harvesting can be done year-round.

Stevens said town officials in the place he wants to operate have accepted the idea, but he's not yet ready to say where it would be.

Pretty much the only thing he's made public so far is a logo for his establishment, called The Health Clinic and bearing the not-so-subtle motto: "A HIGHER standard of care."

...

Both Stevens and Bays, who wants to open her center in Asbury Park, envision clinics where patients could get other services-perhaps massage, acupuncture or yoga classes.

In other states, that's one model. But some dispensaries are more like stores; others resemble cafes. It's not clear now whether New Jersey might end up with a full range of types of establishments.

The prospective sellers are now spending time puzzling through possible local zoning requirements, learning what strains of pot might ease pain and other medical symptoms, and registering as nonprofits....


Pubdate: Sun, 30 May 2010
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Webpage: http://mapinc.org/url/EYAKdSgp
Copyright: 2010 San Jose Mercury News
Contact: letters@mercurynews.com
Website: http://www.mercurynews.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/390
Author: Geoff Mulvihill, Associated Press Writer
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