Thursday, September 22, 2011

Medical marijuana delays deny relief to patients

On March 21, the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) issued a release announcing the “Licensing of Six Nonprofit Alternative Treatment Centers for (the) Medicinal Marijuana Program.” Now, nearly six months later, the DHSS says that despite the March announcement, no licenses or permits have actually been issued (“Marijuana program’s leaders criticized — Background checks, progress questioned,” Sept. 20). Gov. Chris Christie said in a July news conference that he expected medical marijuana to be available to patients by the end of the year. This can never happen if the licenses have not even been issued yet. It is clearly just another piece of medical marijuana misinformation from the Christie administration.

Meanwhile, qualified patients continue to suffer and die in New Jersey without the pain relief and quality of life improvement that marijuana can bring to them. Patients suffer in other ways, too.

Multiple sclerosis patient John Wilson recently began serving a five-year prison term for growing marijuana to treat his debilitating medical condition. Medical marijuana patient Colleen Begley faces 10 years in prison for obtaining marijuana from out of state and sharing it with her fellow patients.

The delays in implementing the medical marijuana program are intolerable and often have tragic consequences. If the state can’t get its act together, let qualified patients or caregivers grow six plants at home, as the original bill stipulated.

-- Ken Wolski, R.N., MPA
The writer is executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey Inc. (

The above LTE was published in The Times of Trenton, NJ on 9/22/11 and is available at:

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