Pubdate: Mon, 6 Dec 2010
Source: Home News Tribune (East Brunswick, NJ)
Contact:  2010 Home News Tribune
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - U.S.)
Bookmark: (Opinion)


Two compromises in short order last week were both good news for many
New Jerseyans.

First, Gov. Chris Christie struck a deal on the medical marijuana law
that eases some of the restrictions he had insisted upon to implement
the measure. Most important is an increase in the number of licensed
distribution centers to six, all of which will also be able to grow
the plant. That helps address concerns about patient access.
Supporters of the law feared that too few centers would make it too
difficult for some patients to acquire the pot even when properly prescribed.

Christie also opened the door wider for the anticipated survival of
the New Jersey Network (NJN), the state's public television network
now threatened by the scheduled expiration of state subsidies Jan. 1.
The governor now says he'd be willing to extend that deadline to keep
the network on the air into the new year, so long as negotiations have
been properly authorized to begin seeking private investors to fund
the network.

The agreement over the medical-pot rules is expected to speed the
process of making the marijuana available, with officials saying they
expect the program to be operating by the summer.

Limits on the potency of the medicinal pot as well as some other
restrictions will remain, as Christie continues to caution that he
does not want the program to be abused and become "de facto
legalization" of all marijuana as it has in some other states where
medical pot has been approved. But the deal will remove some of the
primary obstacles that advocates of the law feared would effectively
gut its effectiveness.

As for NJN, Christie's goal has been to end the state subsidies -
which amounted to about $11 million last year - because taxpayers
can't afford them anymore. But he also says he doesn't wish to scuttle
the network after 41 years on the air. In fact, administration
officials want to maintain ownership of the network's licenses to -
they say - better assure a continued New Jersey focus.

And that is no minor consideration. New Jersey has long suffered from
the fact that the major television stations that service the state all
sit across the borders in either New York City or Philadelphia. As a
result, New Jersey receives only secondary attention - at best -
making the coverage and the scrutiny of NJN that much more important
to maintain.

A pair of bills have already been introduced in the Legislature
designed to start the ball rolling toward negotiations for a new
network management plan. And the governor says he expects NJN to
continue operating - in some form.

Two pieces of encouragement, back-to-back. Quite a rarity in New
Jersey these days.  
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake