Pubdate: Tue, 30 Nov 2010
Source: Home News Tribune (East Brunswick, NJ)
Copyright: 2010 Home News Tribune


The state Senate on Monday postponed a scheduled vote on a measure
that would force Gov. Chris Christie to ease some of the restrictions
his administration has placed on implementation of the state's medical
marijuana law. A vote still is expected in early December, but
Christie on Monday reiterated his own refusal to amend the
restrictions, saying they're necessary to prevent the kinds of abuses
of the law seen elsewhere that would result in "de facto legalization
of marijuana."

That stated goal of avoiding the problems seen in some other states -
most notably California and Colorado - is a reasonable one. But many
supporters of the law maintain that the restrictions are too severe
and would effectively prevent successful application of the law, which
is designed to give certain chronically ill and terminal patients
access to pain-relieving pot.

Among the restrictions would be to limit the number of licensed
marijuana growers to two and distribution centers to four - below the
amount envisioned under the law - making it very difficult for
patients in certain regions of the state to receive the marijuana. The
rules also reduce the number of illnesses that would qualify and caps
the strength of the marijuana.

In other words, the regulations effectively gut the law and greatly
hamper its potential and intended benefit.

So on the one hand we have supporters insisting the restrictions go
much too far in veering away from the intent of the law and seeking
some compromise. Then we have Christie insisting that no, the rules
created by his administration are exactly right just as they are, so
no changes will be made.

What position sounds more reasonable?

Christie's on the proper track in what he says he's trying to do. But
when so many interested parties are telling him that these specific
rules won't work - and this issue need not break along party lines -
it's nothing but misplaced arrogance for the governor to say they're
wrong and that he's right. Exactly right.

There's room - or at least there should be room - for some compromise
here. And if the governor won't take that step himself, then by all
means the Legislature should do whatever it can to force his hand.
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