When the sale of recreational marijuana was about to begin in New Jersey back in April, there was concern the state’s medical marijuana program might be adversely impacted.

Some medicinal cannabis advocates feared there could be a product shortage, and medical pot patients might be pushed to the sidelines when recreational sales got underway, but it turns out just the opposite has taken place.

According to Ken Wolski, the executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana, New Jersey, the Cannabis Regulatory Commission instituted a series of measures designed to protect medical marijuana patients that have been strictly upheld.

He said these measures include “online ordering and curbside pickup for medical patients, home delivery, which we didn’t have before separate hours at the alternative treatment centers and some reserved parking for patients.

Treated like VIPs

Wolski said “with the dedicated parking and the dedicated points of service for medical patients, the medical patients have been reporting that they’ve been treated like VIPs at these alternative treatment centers.”

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“There have been some restrictions on adult use sales, but we haven’t seen those restrictions on the sales of medical cannabis," he said.

He explained supplies of certain strains of marijuana may be limited at times but “this has been going on at the alternative treatment centers since the program began in December of 2012, we don’t really see that as a result of the adult use sales.”

What about prices?

Wolski said just before recreational sales began towards the end of April there was a price increase for medical marijuana, but inflation has forced prices higher for everything, so it’s difficult to really say why costs went up.

He also pointed out there are discounts available for medical patients that typically are not available for adult use customers.

Covered by insurance?

Wolski said the Coalition Medical Marijuana continues to push for “insurance coverage for medical patients, we’re hoping to have insurance coverage perhaps as early as the fall of this year.”

(Photo by Elsa Olofsson on Unsplash)
(Photo by Elsa Olofsson on Unsplash)

"Insurance coverage would be a real game changer for patients. I mean imagine paying a $15 co-pay for an ounce of marijuana," he said.

Prices vary but an ounce of adult-use recreational marijuana sold at a New Jersey dispensary can cost around $400

Assemblyman Herb Conaway, D-Burlington, and Assemblywoman Angela McKnight, D-Hudson are sponsoring a measure, A3248 that would require the Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund, the “Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled” (PAAD) program, the “Senior Gold Prescription Discount Program,” and the Victims of Crime Compensation Office (VCCO) to cover the cost of medical cannabis dispensed to or on behalf of a registered qualifying patient eligible for or receiving benefits under any of those programs.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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