Pubdate: Fri, 22 Jul 2011 Source: Daily Record, The (Parsippany, NJ) Copyright: 2011 The Daily Record Contact: http://www.dailyrecord.com Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/112 CHRISTIE RIGHT TO END ROADBLOCKS TO USE OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA We could use this space to decry the politics and cynicism that led to the use of marijuana for medical purposes being legal by statute but not legal in practice for a year and a half. But we've been down that road before, chiding the Christie administration for its obvious delay tactics in implementing a law that was signed by Jon Corzine just before Chris Christie replaced him as governor. So today we will praise Christie for coming around and instead of putting up more roadblocks, agreeing to knock them down and finally see to it that patients suffering from cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma and other ailments - many of them terminal and painful - can legally use marijuana to relieve their symptoms. Christie held a press conference Tuesday to announce that he will allow the state to begin dispensing marijuana to patients who derive a demonstrated medical benefit. Of the 16 states that have legalized medical marijuana, New Jersey's rules will be among the most strict. Patients who use marijuana to relieve pain won't be able to grow their own marijuana at home. There will be just six nonprofit groups licensed to grow and sell to patients who are cleared by their doctors and the state. Christie was never wrong in wanting to ensure that medical marijuana in New Jersey doesn't become a wide open door to legalized marijuana for all, as it comes close to being in California. But he was wrong in seemingly forgetting about the true pain the people endure and that marijuana helps them relieve, while constantly shifting the target for those key legislative Democrats behind the law who wanted to reach a compromise on reasonable rules governing legalized medical marijuana in New Jersey. All the political games of the past year and a half have meant that people suffering from constant nausea, aches, cloudy vision and other symptoms that marijuana alleviates have had to continue to risk arrest by purchasing or growing marijuana illegally. Waiting for an assurance from the federal Department of Justice that it wouldn't prosecute any state workers involved with the medical marijuana administration was silly. The federal government has never gone after state workers in places where medical marijuana is legal and most likely never will. Christie, of all people, should know that, as he is the former U.S. attorney for New Jersey. In 2009, not long after Christie left that post, the Justice Department put out a memo in that urged local federal prosecutors not to focus their strained investigative resources on patients and caregivers complying with state medical marijuana laws. We're glad Christie has finally come to see the light on this and is ready to show that he cares enough about people who are in pain to help them and take away some of their anxiety. We hope this finally means that in 2011, there will be a legal means for thousands of ailing New Jerseyans to use a medicine they know to be effective but have had to take great risks to obtain. For them, this announcement by the governor must be gratifying. - --- MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.