Pubdate: Tue, 23 Nov 2010
Source: Daily Record, The (Parsippany, NJ)
Copyright: 2010 The Daily Record
Author: Fred Snowflack
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


New Jersey is having a devil of a time trying to provide very sick 
people with the comfort medical marijuana can provide, and that is a 
shame. As long as the debate ensues, those who need the drug are not 
going to get it.

The state Legislature passed and outgoing governor, Jon Corzine, 
signed a bill in January clearing the use of pot for medicinal 
purposes. New Jersey was breaking no new ground here; 13 other states do this.

The bill's passage followed personal appeals before the Legislature 
from very ill people, many of whom admitted to smoking pot illegally 
to make their last days as bearable as possible.

When Gov. Chris Christie took office this year, it became his job to 
enforce the law.

That's where problems began. The state Health Department issued 
guidelines for implementing the law that sponsors of the measure say 
are far too rigid. So, supporters of the original law are rewriting 
the regulations.

On Monday, they complained that the administration wants to 
improperly limit marijuana growers and distribution centers statewide 
and that it wants to cap the potency of medicinal pot, something no 
other state has done. Last week, the state said it wanted to make 
sure that patients did not become "addicted" to medical marijuana.

Before we get to the state's argument, let's touch on the politics of it all.

Christie said at Monday's town hall meeting in Hackettstown that if 
Democrats rewrite or try to alter the regulations, it would just 
delay the availability of the drug to those who need it. He's right 
about that. Democrats would be wiser to get the program up and 
running now and then try to change it down the road. They would have 
the ammunition to do that if, for example, the regulations stopped 
ill people from obtaining the drug.

That said, you have to look at some of the administration's comments 
on this and shake your head. Specifically, the one last week about 
patients getting addicted to marijuana. Millions smoke marijuana 
(illegally) and millions more have tried it at least once. This is 
not an addictive drug. Just ask anyone who has smoked it. To suggest 
otherwise is to ignore reality.

The crux of the matter here seems philosophical more than anything else.

Debating the "evils" of marijuana goes back to the 1960s, or maybe 
even to "Reefer Madness" the 1938 film that suggested marijuana use 
turns people into killers.

Now it's 2010 and the divide between those who see marijuana as a 
deadly drug and those who would have no qualms with complete 
legalization remains. It's easy to see what camp the conservative 
governor and the liberal Democrats in the Legislature are in.

Those caught in the middle are those ill with cancer, Multiple 
Sclerosis and other ailments that demand alternative treatment. And 
that's a pity.
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