Pubdate: Fri, 02 Mar 2012 Source: Asbury Park Press (NJ) Copyright: 2012 Asbury Park Press Contact: http://www.app.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/26 MARIJUANA CENTER: END THE HYSTERIA The ongoing municipal "Reefer Madness" has to stop. The last thing chronically and terminally ill residents of New Jersey need is more delay in easing their suffering. Jackson could be -- and should be -- the place where hysteria gives way to reason. Breakwater Alternative Treatment Center wants to build an enclosed medical marijuana cultivation facility on a 12- to 15-acre site in Jackson. Earlier this week, Township Council members, apparently jittery, failed to act on the nonprofit organization's request to give the Zoning Board some guidance on how to proceed. We hope Jackson doesn't fall prey to the same ill-founded fears that caused towns such as Plumsted and Upper Freehold to raise such a stink that those seeking a place to cultivate the plants backed away. New Jersey is one of 15 states that allows the use of marijuana for medical purposes. The law here, passed in 2010, is one of the strictest in the nation, yet far too many towns are succumbing to irrationality when it comes to possibly hosting one of the six distribution centers for the drug authorized in the legislation. One center is operating (Montclair), and another is about to open (Little Egg Harbor). In Jackson, even at this early stage in the process, officials and some residents are raising red herrings to impede the process. Their concerns, ranging from the legality of the facility to security, are misplaced at best and based on misinformation at worst. Stephen Foran, an attorney with Gilmore and Monahan, the law firm that represents the Township Council, expressed concern about an apparent conflict between federal law, which does not permit the cultivation of medical marijuana, and state law, which allows it. While that is true technically, New Jersey's law is so restrictive that it will not likely cause the feds to act. In states such as California and Colorado, "medical marijuana" became de facto legalization, and the federal government was more than justified in its crackdown. That is not the case here. Others complained that hosting a cultivation facility would bring no tax revenue to the town. While Breakwater, as a nonprofit organization, would not pay property taxes to the township, it would provide jobs and make contributions to local charities and programs. Security concerns are not an issue, since 24/7 manned security or its equivalent is already mandatory for these kind of operations. That's more security than your local drugstore has. Those in pain should not have to keep waiting for implementation of the medical marijuana law. It's time to get the program going and alleviate the suffering of so many New Jersey residents. - --- MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.