Medical marijuana in NJ, nearly six years later
It's been 66 months since patients in New Jersey were granted access to medical marijuana. Today, though, only half of the six planned dispensaries are up and running.
Advocates claim the state is failing to serve the people who need help the most.
"The medicinal marijuana program is a true failure and a disappointment here," said Ken Wolski, executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey. "Only three Alternative Treatment Centers have been opened up in the entire state."
The three operational dispensaries are located in Egg Harbor Township, Montclair and Woodbridge.
According to the New Jersey Department of Health, two additional dispensaries are growing product and should open this fall, including a location in Bellmawr.
A statement from the department cited more than 5,200 patients and caregivers participating in the program, along with 350 physicians.
"Additionally, 40 different strains of product are available for patients to choose," the statement read.
The state's slow-moving program falls short in many ways, Wolski insisted, including the medical conditions that are needed to qualify.
"So many people thought that they would be protected by this law and would be provided safe and legal access to medical marijuana for legitimate medical problems, and it's just not happening," he said. "At the rate that our program is going, it'll be decades before all the mental, emotional and physical conditions that marijuana can help will be recognized as qualifying conditions in New Jersey."
According to the state's website, once all six dispensaries are operational, an evaluation of the program will determine whether or not there is a need for expansion.