Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) Commissioner Dr. Poonam Alaigh and Deputy Commissioner Dr. Susan Walsh were tasked with putting the compassionate use law into practice. Both announced their resignations last week coincident with the awarding of permits to run medical marijuana dispensaries, or Alternative Treatment Centers.
CMMNJ would support any investigation into the ATC awards process by the media and/or the Legislature.
NJ DHSS has proposed a set of regulations to implement the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act. A state executive agency is obligated to adhere to both the specific statutory terms and the clear legislative intent but it is not authorized or empowered to effectively rewrite the statute, substituting its judgment for that of the Legislature.
The New Jersey Senate and Assembly have declared the proposed regulations from DHSS to be inconsistent with the law's intent. Senator Nicholas Scutari has introduced SCR151, the final stage of a rare process that would invalidate parts of the rules. This action would empower the Legislature to ensure the integrity of the new law and could avoid any further delays to the program, if it is employed quickly.
CMMNJ supports this legislative resolution to invalidate significant parts of the current medical marijuana program regulations.
It is our hope the new DHSS officials in charge of the Medicinal Marijuana Program will uphold the intent of the law, unlike their predecessors. CMMNJ suggests the following:
- The DHSS Commissioner and Deputies must commit themselves to understanding and openly stating that marijuana is medicine, since that is what the law declares
- DHSS should be responsive to the concerns of marijuana experts and patients. Previous public hearings have elicited hundreds of impassioned pleas from patients, advocates and potential ATC operators that have been uniformly ignored by DHSS.
CONTACT: Ken Wolski 609 394 2137 firstname.lastname@example.org or Chris Goldstein email@example.com