New Jersey Finalizes Medical Marijuana Rules in Bid to Jumpstart Oft-Delayed Program

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Officials overseeing New Jersey’s medical marijuana program – which has been fraught with numerous setbacks and delays over the past two years – are moving aggressively to ensure dispensaries are operational and providing cannabis to registered patients as soon as possible.

This week, New Jersey finalized an official set of rules governing the fledgling industry, a move that should help jumpstart the program in the next few months. The new rules are reportedly similar to a proposed set of regulations issued earlier this year, though the state will re-examine or exclude several provisions, including one that would limit potency. The previous proposal generated a firestorm of criticism from pot proponents, who said the rules are far too restrictive.

Although some observers remain critical of the finalized rules, the state is at least making solid progress with the program. New Jersey officials are gearing up for the final round of evaluations on six cultivation centers, while two dispensaries that have been awarded state licenses found viable locations to set up shop. At this point, patients might be able to get medical weed from dispensaries in the late spring or early summer.

The latest developments come on the heels of an article in The Star-Ledger highlighting various problems that threaten to derail the program.

State lawmakers passed a medical marijuana initiative two years ago, promising to have a pot distribution network set up by the end of 2010. But officials overseeing the program dragged their feet after running into unexpected hurdles. Some of those problems remain. Several would-be dispensary operators, for instance, have had trouble getting the necessary approvals from the cities and towns where they want to locate.