Health Commissioner Calls NJ Medical Marijuana Program ‘Unique’

Healthcare issues have taken center stage in New Jersey, with several hospital merger proposals, hospital bankruptcies and a new medical marijuana program making headlines. New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services Commissioner Mary O’Dowd sat down with NJToday Managing Editor Mike Schneider to discuss healthcare in the state.

O’Dowd discussed the medical marijuana program in New Jersey, which she said was being put together with “a strict regulatory structure.” She said the state’s program is unique because of the medical model that has been developed, adding that the program will ensure the integrity and safety of the product for patients.

She also discussed the changing landscape of New Jersey hospitals.

O’Dowd said she is still reviewing an application from Hackensack University Medical Center (HUMC) that wants to open a full hospital in Bergen County on the site of the former Pascack Valley Hospital. The State Health Planning Board recommended the application be approved in November and O’Dowd has to make the final decision.

One of the criticisms of the HUMC application is its partnership with a for-profit organization. But O’Dowd said, “In some cases, a for-profit institution can invest a lot more capital into the infrastructure of that healthcare facility.”