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).
"Some of the rules clearly do not comport with what the law calls for," Scutari told NBC New York just hours after officials in the administration of Governor Chris Christie (R) briefed his staff on what they have drawn up so far.
October First was the deadline to publish the rules, and the Administration is expected to release them any day.
But Sen. Scutari is taking particular exception to how the rules deal with the six combination manufacturing and distribution Alternative Treatment Centers that the law calls for (two in North Jersey, two in Central Jersey and two in South Jersey).
Instead, Scutari said he was told two of the centers will be just for growing the marijuana, while the sale of the product will be allowed only in the other four.
"That's clearly not allowed," said Scutari.
The law also allows private parties to establish their own ATC's after the first six are set up but Scutari believes the Administration will make it hard for that to happen.
"I'm certain that's what they're gonna do," the Senator said, referring to potential landmines in the process for petitioning to open additional ATC's.
In reaction to his comments, one of the law's advocates, Chris Goldstein of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana NJ, said the rules and regulations will make it much harder than intended for people suffering from specified illnesses to get relief.
"Over restricting this program will doom it to failure," Goldstein said.
Scutari is also worried about proposed restrictions on potency and ingestibility, noting "We wrote the most stringent, conservative law in the country."
"I hope these rules are not so stringent that they strangle it," Scutari said, adding "That's my fear right now."
Advocate Goldstein added, "Certainly the intent of the law was to create access in a real world scenario."
Scutari said he planned to talk directly with Administration officials on Wednesday.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Senior Services, Donna Leusner, simply said, "We're not gonna comment on rules that haven't been released yet."
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