New Jersey Medical Marijuana Program is Back on Track!
Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 07/19/2011 in Medical Marijuana News
Today, Governor Chris Christie announced that we will allow the New Jersey medical marijuana program to move forward. Despite remaining concerns about the danger of federal prosecutions, Christie said the state will begin giving medical marijuana to patients through non-profit dispensaries.
Medical marijuana was actually legalized last year as Gov. Jon Corzine was leaving office but hit a snag when Gov. Christie halted implementation. The Governor claimed that he was worried the federal government might prosecute state officials involved in the medical marijuana program and said he wanted assurance from federal authorities that this would not happen. The assurance never came; instead, the DEA declared that it would stick to its outdated view of marijuana as a dangerous drug with no medical value and the Justice Department promised prosecutions of large-scale growers and distributors.
Still, Today the Governor said he doubted federal authorities would waste time and resources going after people in full compliance with state law. “This is one of those decisions that’s not an easy one for me as governor,” Christie said. “I had to balance the benefit that will go to citizens in pain versus some potential risks to the folks that were authorizing as dispensaries and to state employees.” The Governor added that he did not want to“play politics with this issue.”
New Jersey Attorney General Paula Dow specifically asked whether state employees could be prosecuted but never got a definitive reply. The government has simply re-stated that patients and caregivers are not a priority. The U.S. attorney for New Jersey has not commented on recent development but an anonymous source told the Associated Press that it was extremely unlikely he would prosecute state employees who are complying within the state’s regulatory framework.
Six nonprofit groups were given licenses to grow and sell marijuana to seriously ill patients but they have not been operating since the state never got around to creating a patient registry or issuing marijuana cards. Democratic Senator Nicolas Scutari, one of the laws major backers, recently said he was hopeful about the law’s future. “First they tried to strangle it, then delay it, and now hopefully we’re going forward in a restrictive fashion — but at least we’re going forward,”he said. “This isn’t radioactive material. It’s a tool for medical treatment.”
Indeed, the future looks rather bright after today’s announcement; and the delays are over and done with: Gov. Christie promised that “the Department of Health will reach out today to the awardees of the six alternative treatment centers and tell them to begin work immediately towards the opening.” The Governor also said that he expects the medical marijuana centers to be up and running before the end of the year.