Anticipating the opening of the New Jersey dispensaries

A recent article describes the preparations for enactment of regulations that will govern dispensaries in NJ. Following are excerpts from the article describing the supply side under the NJ statute.

The article gives highlights of the statute and indicates how it differs from and resembles the proposed NY law.
First, it prescribes a set list of conditions approved for patients use. This provision differs from New York.
Second, it limits the amount which a patient can possess to 2 oz., similar to New York (maximum 2.5 oz.).
Third, no individual cultivation – like New York.

Note the statement that California operators are looking to get in on the New Jersey action.
Presumably we will see the same thing in New York if the bill is enacted.

Note the reference to zoning laws. As I see it, one immediate question for litigators in New York is going to be whether State approval of a registry application for a dispensary will protect a dispensary from adverse action by local government – since the application will specify the address of the dispensary.

It is also worth noting that the New Jersey statute has a residency requirement for patients. There is no such provision in the New York bill; perhaps the Department of Health will add a regulation to that effect. Does anyone know whether that kind of provision is within the scope of an administrative agency’s authority under New York law? If not, I will be researching it myself.

Note also the reference to massage services, accupuncture and yoga classes. These services indicate a “clinic/spa” model as opposed to the pharmacy/package store model or the tavern/cafe model. The clinic/spa model seems to me to offer the greatest scope of opportunity for other occupations to participate in the medical marijuana market – as incidental service providers.


…Another of the likely marijuana provider applicants in New Jersey is Anne M. Davis, a lawyer who also consults with several people interested in opening treatment centers.

She says she’s hearing from current drug dealers who want to go legit, caregivers who already procure marijuana for the sick, and career changers-especially commercial real estate agents who have fallen on slow times. Some of the dispensaries in California, where medical marijuana laws are less restrictive, are looking into opening branches here, Davis said.

There are people with smart business plans and people experienced with growing the plants-illegally of course.

“They think, ‘Hey, I’m going to open this great business and I’m going to make a fortune,'” Davis said. “But that’s not what it’s going to be. It’s going to be very strictly regulated in New Jersey.”

Those regulations are not yet written, and Gov. Chris Christie, who says he supports the medical marijuana bill, is trying to win a delay to give his administration extra time to write them.

Still, the state’s new law offers a glimpse at how the clinics will operate.

It requires at least six nonprofit groups be given the first licenses. They must be spread around the state. Subsequent clinics could be for-profit.

Unlike other states, New Jersey will not allow patients to grow their own. Instead, that will be handled by the centers that distribute marijuana. Patients will be tracked and allowed to buy only 2 ounces per month.

Only doctors who have ongoing relationships with the patients will be able to approve marijuana use for them. Only people with certain medical conditions will be allowed to use. Cancer, glaucoma and any prognosis that gives the patient less that a year to live are on the list; headaches are not.

Bays and another potential treatment center operator, Joseph Stevens, both say they would have their growing operations located away from the treatment centers for security reasons. Their business plans call for growing indoors so that harvesting can be done year-round.

Stevens said town officials in the place he wants to operate have accepted the idea, but he’s not yet ready to say where it would be.

Pretty much the only thing he’s made public so far is a logo for his establishment, called The Health Clinic and bearing the not-so-subtle motto: “A HIGHER standard of care.”

Both Stevens and Bays, who wants to open her center in Asbury Park, envision clinics where patients could get other services-perhaps massage, acupuncture or yoga classes.

In other states, that’s one model. But some dispensaries are more like stores; others resemble cafes. It’s not clear now whether New Jersey might end up with a full range of types of establishments.

The prospective sellers are now spending time puzzling through possible local zoning requirements, learning what strains of pot might ease pain and other medical symptoms, and registering as nonprofits….

Pubdate: Sun, 30 May 2010
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Copyright: 2010 San Jose Mercury News
Author: Geoff Mulvihill, Associated Press Writer

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