New Jersey's stop-and-start road to medical marijuana moved forward again Monday, as the state Department of Health and Senior Services closed off the application period to set up a total of six centers that will be allowed to grow and sell pot.
A total of 20 potential operators ponied up $20,000 each to be considered as purveyors of medical marijuana.
And it immediately drew criticism from Chris Goldstein of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana NJ, the organization that helped pass the new law just over a year ago.
"I don't think it's many at all," Goldstein said, then added "I'm disappointed more people didn't apply."
State officials declined to release any information on the 20 submissions.
He added that people should expect "a decision by late March."
"It shows just how strict the rules and how bad they are that you didn't get hundreds (of applications) from around the country," advocate Goldstein said.
Still hanging over the process however is an obscure and little used constitutional veto that the Legislature can excercise to overturn the rules that advocates are upset about.
"We're expecting the Legislature will move to invalidate the rules," Goldstein said.
He added "We're in unchartered territory once the Legislature makes the decision."
That could come as early as next week.
Advocates are upset that DHSS is capping THC potency at 10% while restricting the strains, according to Goldstein.
He also cited a Physician's registry, restrictions on who can qualify as well as a provision requiring doctors to wean people off of medical marijuana if possible.
In effect, New Jersey has two parallel universes--a state agency moving forward with rules that the Legislature will soon decide whether or not to invalidate.
Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY