What should be medical policies for the Health Department to resolve has become a political matter with interference from the governor’s office. Our governor should relax his heavy-handed micromanaging ways and let the experts make the decisions. According to today’s Star Ledger, “Gov. Chris Christie’s administration said Rutgers University’s agricultural center should grow the pot and hospitals should dispense it.” In addition, lead sponsor Senator Scutari seems poised to seek a 90 day extension.
Because of the cost and security problems of dispensaries in urban areas trying to cultivate the cannabis, it makes sense to seek other growers. Such requires a change in the Medical Marijuana Law, which the legislature should enact. Rutgers University would be an excellent choice, but it should not be the only provider. Poor weather or glitches in the indoor cultivating process can result in supply disruption. The goal is to produce consistently high quality and quantity at a reasonable price, best achieved through multiple cultivators.
The institutional, antiseptic, and bureaucratic, atmosphere of hospitals is not the best setting for dispensing the cannabis. Non-profit organizations which already provide multiple services to the potential clients can better serve these patients in helping them with required paperwork, counseling, and support sessions. Purchasing cannabis is not like buying a loaf of bread. The complexity and restrictions of the law call for the involvement of social service agencies which have the patience, expertise and experience to assist patients, liaison with physicians and provide the extra services which are not “cost effective” for a hospital.
The original law stipulated that the program should be implemented by July 1 with an additional 90 days to October 1 to review and finalize the regulations. The Health Department has been asking for more time to draw up the policies and procedures. If the legislature agrees to grant an additional 90 day extension until January 1,such should be the last extension. Governor Christie must end his meddling, and the Department of Health must move forward rapidly to provide this critical medical service without delay. Medical marijuana: the clock keeps ticking.