MONTCLAIR, N.J. —After careers in human resources and business consulting, Marianne Bays is tired of the corporate world. The 57-year-old's choice for a change: trying to become one of New Jersey's first legal pot dealers.
In January, New Jersey became the 1 4th state to allow the sale and use of medical marijuana. The law goes into effect July 1, but it's expected to take several months before the state has regulations in place and the "alternative treatment centers" where patients will be able to get cannabis.
For now, Bays and others — perhaps dozens of them — are quietly setting up nonprofit groups that will apply to run the first treatment centers in the most populous state outside California to allow medical marijuana.
Bays has been telling family and friends about the new career, which she is planning when she's not working her temporary job helping run the Newark office for the U.S. Census.
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"So far, nobody's looked at me and said something negative to me about it," said Bays, who has a doctorate in business organization. "They've laughed."
The button-down Bays doesn't fit the "Pineapple Express" stereotype of a bud purveyor. There's no "420" sticker on her Acura. She loves gardening, but the only herbs she grows are culinary — like rosemary and basil.
She and her husband live in a spacious home in Montclair, a New York City suburb. She says marijuana has always been available in her social circles. But she said school and work never left her much time to indulge.
Over the last few years, she's learned that some family and friends have found marijuana to ease symptoms associated with conditions such as multiple sclerosis and migraines. The drug is used to treat pain, nausea and lack of appetite.
Regulations are not yet written, and Gov. Chris Christie, who says he supports the medical marijuana bill, is trying to win a delay to give his administration extra time to write them.