Patients in NJ prescribed medical marijuana resorting to buying street pot

With only 1 medical marijuana dispensary in NJ and the sky high prices of medical marijuana program in NJ, most of the patients in critical condition are resorting to street pot because they simply just cannot wait or afford to pay such a high price.

Patients suffering from cancer, glaucoma, and other terminal illness, including children cannot get the medical marijuana they are prescribed through the medical marijuana program in NJ. Most of these patients are literally dying to get some marijuana and they and their loved ones are willing to do even something illegal to save their life.

70-year-old Betty found out that she was suffering from a rare form of liver cancer which would kill her in a few months. She filled a medical marijuana prescription in New Jersey in the hope that she will be treated, but she got nowhere. There are three medical marijuana dispensaries in NJ but only one of them is operating which has a long list of patients waiting.

Patients suffering from chronic illnesses don’t feel like eating much and throw up constantly. They are also in a lot of pain most of the time, and marijuana can help such patients in giving them a life back. Betty found out that THC in marijuana, which is an active chemical, brought back her appetite and also cut down her dependency on pain medication. Her tumor also shrunk after taking the drug. Betty said, ” Without it, I’d be dead. I couldn’t eat, I was throwing up constantly. I lost 45 pounds.”

The marijuana has allowed her to get her appetite back, gain weight and become healthy. She can now have her tumor removed and can live for another 20 years.

64-year-old Suzette Roberts, another patient, would rather not break the law. Going by the rules has so far not gotten her anywhere except for $500 in doctor bills and a $200 ID card which she has yet to use. The waiting list is too long and the only licensed dispensary operating in NJ is swamped with patients.

Roberts is undergoing treatment for stage 4 breast cancer and she says that marijuana lessens her pain and increases her appetite. She also buys the drug illegally because she cannot afford to wait.

“This is a disgrace,” Roberts said. “I am upset and angry that I laid out $700 and I am not getting any answers. I am upset with the state, too, and they don’t seem to care.”

New Jersey’s first licensed marijuana dispensary, Greenleaf Compassion Center in Montclair started in December 2012, and in the eight months of its operation, both patients and providers have learnt that their medical marijuana program is the most expensive in the nation. 10 other states permit medical marijuana retail sales and costs include fees, doctor visits, sales tax and the price of pot. None of this is covered by insurance.

The $200 registration fee for two years is the second costliest in the nation. The state also has the third-highest sales tax at 7 percent and the steep marijuana prices add to the cost. According to a survey carried out, patients visiting Greenleaf have to pay from $440 to $560 for an ounce of marijuana. Other states are relatively less expensive, Montana providing the best bargain at $261 an ounce on average.

However, NJ medical marijuana plan is much more expensive, with a new patient starting the program paying $700 for an ID card and an ounce of marijuana. In other states, the starting cost is much lower, $300 in Colorado, $510 in Washington, D.C., $531 in Arizona, and $460 in Michigan.

Jay Lassiter of Cherry Hill, who is a registered patient and marijuana activist, said that he spent nearly $1,000 on doctor visits, state registry fees and the drug before he took his first puff. “It’s a rich man’s game,” he said.

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