'High' Lights of New NJ Medical Marijuana Rules

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The proposed rules to put New Jersey's new medical marijuana law into effect are drawing fire from one of its chief legislative sponsors, Sen. Nicholas Scutari(D-Union).

    Advocates have been waiting overtime for the rules and regs to come out on the Garden State's new Medical Marijuana law, and now, finally, the draft rules are out.

    So what bureaucrat decided there should be three grades of medical pot, categorized as "Low," "Medium" and yes, "High?"

    There is a suggestion that the growers and dispensers can label their weed as "organic."

    That's because no pesticides will be allowed at the two indoor Alternative Treatment Centers that will be authorized for plant cultivation only.

    However, you won't see "organic" advertised on the outside of the 4 to 8 Alternative Treatment Centers designated as "dispensaries."

    The rules  prohibit outside advertising.

    As a matter of fact, they ban advertising of the price of medical marijuana, so don't expect any price wars.

    Not that it will be cheap for non-profit organizations to get into the Alternative Treatment Center (ATC) business.

    Applicants must pony up $20,000 for an application (although $18,000 is refundable if your application is rejected).

    It is unlikely the two ounces a month that can be sold to qualified individuals will be cheap.

    One example, if you sign up for residential home delivery, the Alternative Treatment Center must put two employees in the delivery vehicle, with separate lock boxes for the drug and the cash.

    Oh, and did we mention no advertising? The vehicles must be unmarked -- no "pot mobiles" rolling down Garden State roads.

    If you go to an ATC to buy your product, you can't smoke it there.

    In fact, it doesn't sound like the ATC's will be much of a gathering place because they will be banned from selling food or beverages (as in no coffee house atmosphere -- Starbucks should be pleased).

    Nor will they be allowed to sell marijuana-themed T-shirts and other paraphernalia -- at least not to the general public.

    However, they can sell the same to their state-approved customers. Go figure.

    Three kinds of marijuana can be sold: dried leaves, oral lozenges, or topical formulations to put on your skin.

    One more item of note, "The ATC shall establish, implement and adhere to a written... drug-free... workplace."

    For patients looking for pain relief, it appears they'll have to wait a lot longer than the legislative authors intended.

    The rules say the first sale won't be allowed til next summer as the ATC's are allowed to ramp up.

    All 97 pages of the proposed rules are on-line at the NJ Department of Health and Senior Services website -- there still has to be a public hearing before they become final.

    Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY