In New Jersey we find Richard Caporusso and his physician bringing a lawsuit against the N.J. Department of Health and Senior Services and Health Commissioner Mary E. O’Dowd; and John H. O’Brien Jr., director of the medical-marijuana program. This legal action alleges that the people and agencies named have “actively interfered with the implementation” of the [mmj] program and imposed restrictions that have prevented sick people from getting the relief to which they are entitled. Caporusso says the state has deliberately set up “a million roadblocks” to delay a program that will help the gravely ill,”
New Jersey’s medical marijuana law, The Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, was signed by Gov. Jon S. Corzine in January 2010, in his last days in office. The law mandated the program start by July 1 of that year. 2010. Legislators later extended the deadline by three months. But it wasn’t until March 2011 that the health department tentatively approved a half-dozen nonprofit groups to run dispensaries. So far, none has opened. Only two have been able to obtain sites and all await final state authorization. No marijuana is being grown. And the state has not created required registries of doctors and patients who may participate in the program.
“The department empathizes with those patients who are frustrated,” Daniel Emmer, a health department spokesman, said in an e-mail. But it “is building the program from the ground up and balancing the need to create a secure program with the need to provide qualified patients with access to medicinal marijuana. The state is actively moving forward to make this program a reality.”
Caporusso disagrees. After a nearly 22-month delay, with no grand openings in sight, the state is creeping along, he says. His suit seeks punitive damages, plus court orders to replace O’Dowd as program overseer and to impose new implementation deadlines. Thousands of severely ill New Jerseyans are waiting for the drug to become available, according to Anne M. Davis, co-counsel in Caporusso’s case and chairwoman of New Jersey NORML, a nonprofit group that promotes the legalization of marijuana. Live in N J and not a member of N J NORML?Go here.
An estimated 35,000 hospice patients – who have a life expectancy of six months or less – are registered in the state each year, Davis said, and all qualify for medical marijuana under New Jersey’s restrictive law. Come July 1, that will be 140,000 people who have died without access to a drug that brings some pain relief without the severe side effects caused by pharmaceuticals, she said.
We will keep an eye on the Garden State, Greenies. There’s lots more on this story here.
[image: google images New Jersey flag]
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