We have been covering the Medical Marijuana Law in New Jersey as it was legislated in, only to watch the New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie put the brakes on the entire program to await an approval from the Federal Government. New Jersey passed the most restrictive medical marijuana program yet, giving only those that have the most serious or terminal diseases the right to use marijuana for medical reasons with impunity. On Tuesday, Gov. Christie did an about-face on his stance to restrict the implementation of the law by announcing that he believes the states narrow initiative would not run afoul of federal persecutors, and gave a green light to the program.
New Jersey’s six approved dispensaries could be open by the end of the year and serve patients who have MS, terminal cancer and other serious conditions that are not responding to other treatments. It was just last month that Gov. Christie said he wouldn’t move forward with the program until he received assurance that no one involved in the program would be prosecuted for participating. It may have been the June 29th Justice Department memo that reiterated that small and focused state programs would not be a top priority for law enforcement that changed his mind.
The law in New Jersey program does not allow patients or caregivers to grow their own medicine, they can only have a two ounce supply every 30 days, and THC limits in the plants will be capped at 10%, the strangest clause in the law that will force growers to limit their plants potential or seek out weaker strains. 92 doctors from 19 different counties have already registered with the program, a requirement before they can recommend a patient might benefit from cannabis. The dispensaries will be quite a drive for some residents, taking more than two hours each way, and patients will have to pay $200 to register.
Gov. Christie who spent seven years as a federal prosecutor himself said that he now believes that federal prosecutors have more important crimes to pursue and will not bother the states program as long as dispensaries operate to the letter of the law. Although he never did receive the assurance he was seeking, he told reporters on Tuesday that allowing the program to finally move forward was a risk he is now willing to take as a governor. A step in the right direction for New Jersey. Congratulations to all the hard working activists who never let up the pressure.