This article from Friday explains a lot about what is happening in NJ. Basically, according to the article and – as usual – I have not yet seen the text of the actual proposal by the State – Governor Chris Christie wants to eliminate the ability of nonprofit dispensaries to participate in the supply-side of the medical marijuana market. Instead he wants all dispensing through hospitals.
I speculated in my article on the NY medical marijuana bill that no hospital would want to dispense marijuana because marijuana is completely prohibited under federal law so NO ONE, including a hospital, may legally dispense it – under federal law. The state medical marijuana laws provide a defense to criminal prosecution for marijuana cultivation, distribution, purchase, possession, and use. Any collective that is not registered with or otherwise interfacing with the federal government presumably has little worry in terms of retribution by the federal (except perhaps the occasional DEA raid). However, hospitals are generally dependent on medicaid reimbursement and could be penalized for violating federal law. Does anyone know hospital law well? Offhand, what are the other means through which the federal government funds/controls hospitals?
Did the State consider the possibility that it is setting up hospitals for a direct conflict with federal law if they wish to dispense cannabis – and therefore no hospital will choose to participate?
Further as Chris Goldstein noted, the proposal that Rutgers University cultivate all the marijuana for the state program potentially implicates the same part of the Controlled Substances Act that has allowed the University of Mississippi to maintain a monopoly on the legal manufacture and distribution of marijuana in the United States, as evidenced in Dr. Lyle Craker’s litigation against the DEA.
Anyway, this move by the Governor clearly demonstrates an intention to limit severely the scope and nature of the market – by effectively institutionalizing it deep within the health care bureaucracy. My question for the Governor is the same question which I pose to Bridget Brennan, the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the City of New York [who came out against the New York bill suspiciously close to the time of Governor Christie’s announcement]:
– What is your basis for concluding that there should be no direct-to-public dispensation of cannabis by corporate entities?
– What is the evidentiary support for the claim that dispensaries create crime?
– What is the reason for stating that only hospitals should be permitted to dispense cannabis – and did you investigate the possibility that the federal government might take action to prevent any dispensing of cannabis by a hospital?