Monday, June 8, 2009

More Analysis of Assembly Committee Changes to Medical Marijuana Bill

I finally read the actual text of the "substitutions" the Assembly Health and Senior Services committee put in NJ's medical marijuana bill and it is somewhat worst than I first though.

But the overriding problem is the requirements for setting up the Alternative Treatment Centers (ATCs), the only venue they allow for growing and delivering marijuana to patients, combined with the difficult hoops a patient has to go though to get a recommendation.

The ATCs are required to be set up as full formal non-profits, with a board of directors, a manager, etc., plus criminal background checks for everybody working at them. The complete set of requirements is pretty large and means there is going to be a lot of expensive costs in setting up one of these non-profits.

Meanwhile, very few patients have conditions that qualify, few doctors who are providing treatment to these patients are going to want to recommend and even fewer patients are going to want to go through the difficult process of getting a recommendation. It will just be easier to go to the black market and hope they can find same clean marijuana and not get busted.

So we have expensive ATCs with few patients. That means the ATCs are going to have to charge a lot of money for the medicine. Oh, and they can only give out what I estimate to be half the amount of medicine a typical patient uses.

The high cost of medicine means even fewer patients will use the ATCs, which means more costs passed on to the remaining patients raising the price of medicine, etc. You get a death spiral and the ATCs shut down because they have no patients and are hemorrhaging money.

Anybody analyzing this situation would refuse to get involved in setting up an ATC and the whole system will never get off the ground.

So this bill needs to be changed to a functional bill before the Assembly votes on it. The Senate version, S119, was pretty reasonable.

Call your Assembly person and get them on board for the original bill.

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