Surprise, Surprise: New Jersey’s Medical Weed Program Sucks

August 5, 2013 | Bucky Turco

As the medical and (recreational) cannabis economy is booming along the West Coast and in states like Colorado that have enacted common sense legislation, New Jersey still can’t seem to get their shit together. Their program is so heavily regulated and restrictive, that it could be the country’s costliest. But first, a quick recap.

Back in 2010, when his tenure was hours away from being over, Governor Jon Corzine signed a bill into law that effectively made New Jersey the 14th state to legalize pot for medicinal reasons. In came Governor Chris Christie who basically did nothing for about a year except to propose more hurdles. He added so many restrictions, the state Senate told him to make edits or they would. Sometime in July of 2011, Christie got around to enacting the law. Almost six months later, a single dispensary opened December 6, 2012 and some patients were able to get their medicine.

Unfortunately, Suzette Roberts wasn’t one of those lucky few. She’s a 64-year-old woman who is undergoing treatment for stage 4 breast cancer and told NJ.com that weed “lessens the pain and gives me more of an appetite.” Despite shelling out $200 for an ID card, she still can’t seem to purchase any of the weed, legally. The lone dispensary she applied to, Greenleaf Compassion Center, has been trying to deal with a deluge of requests and has yet to process her paperwork.

For now, perhaps she’s better off without the legal buds. For one, they’re awfully pricy. Greenleaf Compassion Center in Montclair, which doesn’t even have a menu on its site like so many other dispensaries, charges anywhere from $440 to $560 for an ounce of primo, making it the most expensive in the nation. It’s also a lot more than the current black market rate in New York, where top quality chronic can be had for about $400 and even cheaper if one purchases a quarter pound according to a source knowledgable in this area.

Between the inaccessibility and price, some medical weed patients such as Roberts have reverted to buying weed from the people she can really rely on: her dealer.

(Photo: eggrole/Flickr)