Medical marijuana program’s biggest challenge: Willing host communities, O’Dowd says

TRENTON – State Health Commissioner Mary O’Dowd said Wednesday the biggest challenges for getting medical marijuana facilities set up is finding municipalities willing to host such centers.

The other hurdle is making sure the state’s medical pot program withstands federal scrutiny, she told the Senate Budget Committee. She said there have been other states that haven’t been as successful doing so.

“The overarching goal is to provide safe marijuana to qualifying patients,” she said. “That remains a concern and an element in our planning.”

More than 900 patients and caregivers are registered in the medical marijuana program, O’Dowd said. The median age is 53, with 70 percent of the patients men and 30 percent women.

Only one of six centers that were planned to be open under the law is actually operating: Greenleaf in Montclair.

Sen. Loretta Weinberg, (D-37), of Teaneck, asked about the long waiting lists the center has been experiencing.

O’Dowd said part of the reason for that is because the center has made some “individual decisions” such as not selling the medical marijuana in various forms when it could.

“They have made an independent decision not to sell it,” she said.

With regards to other centers, such as one in Egg Harbor, O’Dowd said the department is waiting for a building inspection to be completed.  

And regarding a third center, which is planned to be set up in Woodbridge, O’Dowd said  the department is still waiting for more information to be submitted.

 

Medical marijuana program’s biggest challenge: Willing host communities, O’Dowd says