Pubdate: Sat, 23 Jul 2011
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA)
Copyright: 2011 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


After months of delay, Gov. Christie has finally made the correct 
decision: to stop stalling implementation of the state's medical marijuana law.

Christie never got the blanket assurance from federal authorities 
that they would honor the law. But he finally came to the same 
logical conclusion that others reached months ago, that it is 
unlikely that federal prosecutors would raid state-sanctioned medical 
marijuana dispensaries.

That doesn't mean federal agents won't pursue illegal marijuana 
operations, but they have much bigger operations to target in their 
war on drugs.

Since he was a U.S. attorney in New Jersey for seven years, Christie 
should have known that all along, and not put up unnecessary 
stumbling blocks to thwart the new law.

But now that the governor has given the green light, New Jersey 
should move quickly to implement prescription sales of medical marijuana.

Delaware and other states that were hesitant to proceed with medical 
marijuana programs while awaiting similar assurances from the federal 
government should follow Christie's lead.

New Jersey passed one of the strictest medical marijuana laws in the 
country more than a year ago. Then-Gov. Jon Corzine signed the 
legislation as he was leaving office, but the law has been in limbo 
as lawmakers debated with the Christie administration over the regulations.

The state has yet to create a registry of eligible patients. It needs 
to do that immediately. The state's delays to this point have 
frustrated seriously ill or dying patients waiting for relief.

Researchers generally agree that marijuana can ease the pain of 
persons suffering from debilitating medical conditions, such as cancer or AIDS.

Six nonprofit groups were given licenses to grow and sell medical 
marijuana, but none has been dispensed.

The alternative-treatment centers are located in the more populated 
region of the state, between New York and Philadelphia. But none were 
approved for the Atlantic City area. State-registered patients from 
that end of New Jersey will have to travel at least an hour since the 
law prohibits home delivery.

That seems like an unnecessary inconvenience for patients. After an 
initial trial run, the state should evaluate whether more centers are 
needed. After all, the main point of the law was to show more 
compassion to the seriously ill.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom