Jersey’s medical marijuana program takes a major step forward today.

Mary O’Dowd, the Commissioner of the Jersey Health Department, says effective immediately “for patients that have identified a physician – that they’re in care with -they will be able to have their physician register them with the program, so that the patient can then get the ID number that the physician will provide to them. And they can register themselves- send us the information that we need to put together an ID card for them.”

She points out, “Doctors have been able to register with the program since 2010, and then just this past April, we made the list of physicians registered with the program publicly available. And, as of now, we have almost 150 physicians that are registered and willing to participate in the medicinal marijuana program…This we thought was an important step to allow patients the opportunity to identify a physician in their community. If their current physician was not participating, for the last several months they’ve had the ability to reach out to that doctor and develop a bona-fide patient physician relationship, which is a requirement of our medical model.”

O’Dowd adds while no marijuana distribution facilities have opened yet in Jersey, “the Montclair facility has continued to report to the department that they anticipate having their product available for distribution in September…I think this is a very important step in the program because it’s the first time that patients will be interacting directly with the Department…We’ve made every effort to make this process as user-friendly as possible for both the physicians and the patients.”

She says, “We’ve just recently revamped our website so it has a lot of good, useful information…It has frequently asked questions and a real step by step description of how to use the program…You can get more information by visiting the department of health website…But if people continue to have questions or are having difficulty, we have a customer service program where they can reach out and get someone by phone.”