Inquirer Editorial: Marijuana stalling over

DEAN ROHRER
DEAN ROHRER
Posted: July 23, 2011

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.

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