Recently, our efforts appear to be gaining traction. We have asked for, and received, an amendment to the guidelines (as law) to abolish the three strain limit (dispensaries can grow what they want, and better serve the patient), and allow for a simpler approach to treating children (such as Jennie Storms son and Meghan and Brian Wilson's daughter, in addition to Tina DeSilvia and; both of these children suffer from intractable seizures which cannabis HELPS).
If you read just the headlines, you could form the opinion that our Governor, Chris Christie, has come to his senses and determined that the scientific findings are sound enough to make policy decisions on. However, we on the front lines can offer a different opinion. Yes, the Governor has appeared to relent under pressure from his constituents. Some count this as a victory, but it is a dual-edged victory. Certainly the Governor sees the political equity in this issue. He wants to appear to be meeting the needs of his contituents. However, after repeated requests to sit down with him and educate him, it doesn't appear that such a meeting is forthcoming.
Terry Stern, a respected member of the Friends of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana, NJ, had this to say in a recent op-ed: In all the flap about medical cannabis in New Jersey, a moderately plump elephant in the room is getting very little attention.
Statistics gathered from all states with medical cannabis programs show the national average of cannabis patients is 7.7 per thousand population.
There are states with as high a number as 14 per thousand and states as low as 3.
And then there’s New Jersey, which has one patient per 3,000 population. That’s like a car tracking gas usage in gallons per mile.
Unless we can show why living in New Jersey is a whole lot healthier than living anywhere else, there ought to be approximately 50,000 to 60,000 medical cannabis patients in a population this size.
Where are all the patients?
TERRY H. STERN
What Mr. Stern is alluding to is that the very guidelines of the program implemented by Governor Christie is the impediment to getting patients enrolled in the program and receiving the medicine they need. Those guidelines have literally choked the life out of what would have been the strictest program in the states that have adopted medical cannabis programs. In a state with the population we have, 6 dispensaries are not enough. Currently, the one dispensary we have operating has closed its doors for lack of product. Where are the other five? Of those 1200 or so registered patients, only about 10 percent have been able to secure product under the program's guidelines, legally. So, Mr. Stern poses a very pertinent question: where are the patients? I can tell you only about my personal experience: my condition (failed back surgery, spinal cord stimulator implanted, 14 year relationship with my doctor, 10 years on narcotic pain killers) does not qualify. Nor do the vast variety of other conditions that could benefit by using cannabis. I have a prescription for Marinol, which i take 10mgs three times a day. It's fairly expensive, about $2500 per month. Why should I be relegated to take a THC-only pill when it's been scientifically proven that the other components of cannabis are much better suited to deal with pain? Because of our Governor's guidelines. Like it, or not, Governor, THIS is your program. If you had just implemented the law and not had the DHSS draw up the guidelines, you may have been able to side-step that. But, you didn't. You, in conjuction with the DHSS, have made the program unworkable. Where are the patients? We're waiting for a sign from the Governor that we will be able to get the medicine we need in a timely manner.
-- Jim Price, CMMNJ website administrator, non-qualifying patient and cannabis activist