Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana Harder to Buy in New Jersey than Street Drugs

|

Credit: foter-Torben-Bjorn-Hansen-CC-BY

Despite medical marijuana being legal for over three years in New Jersey, extensive regulations and high fees have pushed some patients back into the black market.

The Star-Ledger tells the heartbreaking story of of Suzette Roberts, who suffers from stage 4 breast cancer:

[Following] the rules of New Jersey's struggling medical marijuana program has gotten the 64-year-old Cliffside Park woman nothing but $500 in doctor bills and a $200 ID card she has yet to use. New Jersey's only licensed dispensary told her in the spring they've been swamped and haven't gotten to her name on the waiting list.

Roberts—who says marijuana "lessens the pain and gives me more of an appetite" as she undergoes treatment… buys the drug illegally because she can't afford to wait.

Roberts is not the only one waiting in line. The vast majority of New Jersey residents with prescriptions have never received medicine. According to the Star-Ledger, only 127 of 1,000 patients hoping to buy from the state's only currently open dispensary have been served.

The Star-Ledger describes the Medical Marijuana Program (MMP) of New Jersey as "the nation's most restrictive." Unlike states such as Michigan and Delaware, medical cards from other states cannot be used in New Jersey. Unlike Arizona, which allows patients to grow up to 12 plants, or Washington where 15 are permissible, residents of New Jersey are prohibited from cultivating any marijuana plants.

"New Jersey is tied for second for the costliest registration fee," the Star-Ledger points out of the $200 upfront cost. Although patients with Medicaid are eligible for a reduced fee, from $200 to $20, the card has to be renewed every two years. Furthermore, neither Medicaid nor "any other health plans," according to the New Jersey Department of Health, can be used to mitigate the costs of buying this type of medicine.

Greenleaf, the only actively operating dispensary in the state, charges "$440 to $560 for an ounce of marijuana," according to the Star-Ledger, even before New Jersey's 7 percent sales tax is added to the purchase.

Just like their patients, doctors who wish to prescribe marijuana are subjected to registration. The New Jersey MMP site explains that a doctor's request to prescribe marijuana has to be processed not only by the MMP, but by the state's Division of Consumer Affairs. Physicians must also
"possess an active controlled dangerous substances registration." Furthermore, there exists a stipulation of a "bona fide physician-patient relationship," which must exist for either a full year or four visits before a doctor can prescribe medical marijuana to a patient.

Some of the bottleneck might be relieved soon, however. The South Jersey Times reports that the second state-approved medical marijuana dispensary plans to open on September 9.

NEXT: Detroit Retirees March to City Hall

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

    1. As screwed up as our state is, I refuse to believe we are worse than New York or Illinois

      1. And I’m talking about politics strictly. Excluding politics I am of the firm opinion that we are the best state (Note to everyone else, I am not trying to sound like an arrogant Californian and if you enjoy the way of life in other states better, there’s nothing wrong with that)

  1. “New Jersey is tied for second for the costliest registration fee,” the Star-Ledger points out of the $200 upfront cost. Although patients with Medicaid are eligible for a reduced fee, from $200 to $20, the card has to be renewed every two years. Furthermore, neither Medicaid nor “any other health plans,” according to the New Jersey Department of Health, can be used to mitigate the costs of buying this type of medicine.

    Clearly the best health plan is one that allows sick people to leave New Jersey.

  2. no alt-text? Those fingers look familiar

    1. that’s what she said.

  3. Despite medical marijuana being legal for over three years in New Jersey, extensive regulations and high fees have pushed some patients back into the black market.

    Do I get to say ‘I told you so’?

  4. “Heartbreaking story of of Suzette Roberts, who suffers from stage 4 breast cancer:”

    That is a heartbreaking story.

    Chris Christie thinks she’s a kook.

    Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would have decriminalized small amounts of marijuana–Christie said that if marijuana is illegal federally, then it should be against the law at the state level, too.

    Chris Christie is a kook.

  5. The lady doesn’t buy it illegally, but someone sells it to her illegally.

  6. New Jersey is a regular Cosmotopia with that taxed and regulated medical mj.

  7. Buydrug.in is an online pharmacy which specializes in prescription and Over the counter medicine in Noida, Greater Noida, Ghaziabad and East Delhi as well. We sells prescription drugs and medicines online with comfort of home delivery service by our qualified and registered pharmacist which is an unique concept in retail pharma industry.

  8. Buydrug.in is an online pharmacy which specializes in prescription and Over the counter medicine in Noida, Greater Noida, Ghaziabad and East Delhi as well. We sells prescription drugs and medicines online with comfort of home delivery service by our qualified and registered pharmacist which is an unique concept in retail pharma industry.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.