Yesterday, NUGGETRY News reported that arguments were set to be heard in a New Jersey lawsuit that alleged the state was purposely stalling the implementation of its medical marijuana program. The suit asked that the state appoint a group to monitor the program and also asked that the process for a collective to open be expedited, as only one has been able to open for business in the past three years.
Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson refused the request from the lawsuit and instead sent the case to an appellate court. Jacobson said that appeals panels are typically the appropriate venue when legal challenges involved the “actions and inactions” of administrative agencies. In this case, the administrative agency is the Health Department.
Jacobson also denied the state’s motion to dismiss the case and asked why the department had missed several deadlines.
Attorney Anne M. Davis said that law required the Health Department to grant or deny final approval to compassion centers within 60 days. If they could not meet the deadline, she believes that other nonprofits should have been given a chance to open a dispensary.
Richard Caporusso, one of the people who initially filed the suit, is happy that the judge recognized the department’s shortcomings and has kept the case going. However, he is disappointed that it will take longer for the case to be resolved because he and his attorney feel the state’s one compassion center, Greenleaf, is being anything but compassionate.
Attorney Davis said that Greenleaf has “a monopoly and is charging double the street value” for an ounce of marijuana. Caporusso went to Greenleaf last week and had to pay $500 for 3/4 of an ounce of marijuana.
The Health Department is confident that they have done everything they can to get the state’s medical marijuana program running as soon as possible. The department has said that building a medical marijuana program “from the ground up” was “a daunting task involving medical, legal, and personnel issues.”
The department’s attorney Michael J. Kennedy argued that the law allows the department leeway with deadlines and that the program has been operating “in good faith.”