By "Radical" Russ Belville
(Cannabis News) Gov. Chris Christie said he will fight to prevent his administration’s proposed medical marijuana regulations from going up in smoke, despite pressure from state lawmakers to make changes. The governor said he fears watering down the rules would essentially create “a de facto legalization of marijuana” in New Jersey.
Changes here could lead to duplicating flawed medical marijuana systems in place in California and Colorado, Christie said during a press conference on Tuesday. There are currently a total of 13 states that allow medical marijuana.
“We’re not going to have a head shop in every town and quack doctors writing prescriptions for people with headaches to get marijuana,” Christie said. “That’s not going to happen on my watch.”
Christie said he has no problem with allowing for the “compassionate relief of pain for those patients who can find relief through no other legal means.
“I’m for them getting it from doctors who’ve been treating them all along, not from doctors parachuted into the situation with a profit-making motive like we’ve seen happen in California and Colorado,” he said.
Gov. Corzine left for you the strictest medical marijuana law in the country, Gov. Christie! Patients can’t grow their own and are limited to two ounces of cannabis, available only at six dispensaries in the whole state. Chronic pain and severe nausea aren’t even covered by themselves; they must be the symptom of HIV/AIDS or cancer. Physicians must be responsible for ongoing primary care and not just “the provision of authorization for a patient to use medical marijuana or consultation solely for that purpose”.
You already have a law preventing “quack doctors writing prescriptions for people with headaches to get marijuana” because headaches (even migraine) wouldn’t qualify in New Jersey. You already have a law preventing “doctors parachuted into the situation with a profit-making motive” because of the law’s “ongoing primary care” makes that impossible. Your “head shop in every town” fear has nothing to do with medical marijuana; you have head shops in New Jersey already.
Your law, signed on January 19th, even includes coverage for “terminal illness, if the physician has determined a prognosis of less than 12 months of life,” and your stonewalling is going to guarantee another January 19th passes without any of those terminal patients getting some comfort from legal medical marijuana. So much for your support of “compassionate relief of pain”. Your unfounded fears of California and Colorado mean some of your constituents are suffering and will die.
What the Assembly and Senate are doing is rejecting your even more restrictive regulations for the medical marijuana program that defy the intent of the law. Where the law calls for six “alternative treatment centers” (ATCs) – understood as “dispensaries” where patients can acquire their two ounces – your rules call for only four actual “dispensaries” and the other two ATCs shall be non-dispensing “grow sites”. Your rules call for those two grow sites to produce only three strains each limited to a max of 10% THC, far below what is considered “medical grade” anywhere in the world. At 10% THC, the two ounce limit becomes even more problematic as patients will have to use more cannabis to achieve the same relief.
No, the truth of the situation lies in your prejudice against cannabis, Gov. Christie. Your quote about “patients who can find relief through no other legal means” gives you away as a simple-minded prohibitionist. You believe marijuana is evil and a patient should be forced to try every legal, expensive, addictive, side-effect-laden pharmaceutical first before trying safe, natural, effective, non-toxic cannabis whose worst side effects are dry mouth, bloodshot eyes, and some joy. You are demagoguing a crisis that doesn’t exist to fight for an even worse medical marijuana law.
Shame on you.