New Jersey’s dismal medical marijuana program includes just six dispensaries and twelve qualifying conditions. Stifled by state restrictions, the market for medical marijuana in the garden state is short on product, and patients are paying the price in high costs for medication. Democrats looking to loosen-up industry rules introduced a bill adding diagnoses like PTSD and glaucoma to the list of qualifying conditions on Monday but the state’s anti-marijuana Republican Governor Chris Christie says he will not allow access to expand on his watch.
“The reason why it hasn’t gotten the response it’s gotten in other states is because ours is a truly medical-based program for only people who have true illnesses that require medicinal marijuana,” Christie said Monday, “Other states have programs that are faux medical-marijuana programs that allow for recreational use.”
In a report on the state’s medical marijuana program, Bloomberg News points out that patients struggle to afford the $200 identification card necessary to enroll in the program. Once they’re in the program, they meet its steep prices. In March, the average cost of medical weed in the state—$489 an ounce—is higher than the US street price, which High Times found averages $253 per ounce.
A political consultant and medical marijuana patient in New Jersey, Jay Lassiter, told Bloomberg that he pays an “insane” $400 or $500 a month on the medication he uses to manage side effects of HIV medication. “That’s a car payment, or enough to put a kid through private school,” he told the business outlet.
Lassiter is not likely to find a compassionate ear from Christie, who delayed and tightened the state’s medical pot program upon taking office.
“We don’t anticipate any significant expansion during the Christie administration,” Ken Wolski, executive director of the Trenton-based Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey, told Bloomberg, “As a matter of fact, we’ve pretty much abandoned our efforts.”
Christie’s antagonistic relationship with the marijuana industry is well-established: He said during his now-defunct campaign for the presidency that he would enforce federal prohibition of marijuana in states that legalized for recreational use, and has called tax revenue from legal weed “blood money.”