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More Medical Marijuana Centers Await State Approval

By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
Trenton. April 17, 2013

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Health Commissioner Mary O'Dowd testifies before Senate Budget Committee (photo by Phil Gregory)

Three years after New Jersey’s medical marijuana law was enacted, only one of the six authorized alternative treatment centers is dispensing the pot to qualified patients.

More of them are in the process of getting state approval.

The center in Montclair has been open since December.

Health Commissioner Mary O’Dowd says a second facility located in Egg Harbor Township is now awaiting a building inspection by the state Health Department before it can begin serving patients.

 “Some of the delays in that process were due to the fact that they provided us regular and routine changes and updates as to the individuals that were involved as well as the organizations that were investing in it. I think that was a challenge for them and caused some delay on their end.”

O’Dowd says the state is reviewing the required paperwork from three other alternative treatment centers.

“The only other that has made their location public is the facility based in Woodbridge, New Jersey, and we are still waiting for a full and complete package of information for review, but we have already started to act on reviewing the documentation that has been provided.”

O’Dowd is not indicating just when those centers might open.

She says a big challenge is making sure the program withstands federal scrutiny.

“As we have moved towards implementation the federal government has taken action against these types of businesses in other states. So that remains a concern and an element of our planning each and every day”

O’Dowd says the state has developed nationally recognized protocols for the testing of medical marijuana to determine its potency and the presence of any pesticides or mold.

 “Because we know that the patients who have the qualifying conditions are often immunocompromised and very ill and that to introduce mold into their system could have serious consequences.”

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