Last Sticking Point Must Be Resolved
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Last Sticking Point Must Be Resolved
Posted by CN Staff on February 16, 2011 at 06:07:08 PT
Source: Courier-Post
Trenton -- The Christie administration should drop THC limit and let medical marijuana happen. It's been over a year now since New Jersey became the 14th state to legalize marijuana for medical use.Getting marijuana into the hands of those patients suffering from certain types of cancer, AIDS, severe glaucoma and several other terminal ailments shouldn't be that hard. Other states that have legalized marijuana for medical use point the way. Many of them do it well and have minimized abuses of the system by recreational marijuana users. Other states, California being one, have medical marijuana rules in place that are loose and easily abused.
In New Jersey, we have a governor who is a former federal prosecutor and, perhaps bringing that mind-set, would seem to be against New Jersey's Medical Marijuana Compassionate Use Act from ever taking hold. The rules his state health department has proposed for implementing the law are highly limiting -- so much so that they may well render the law useless.We have always understood why Gov. Chris Christie and his administration have wanted to be cautious with this. They don't want to see recreational marijuana use in New Jersey spike. They don't want a system (or lack thereof) in New Jersey where anyone can fudge some pain and get a prescription for marijuana.But in the meantime, there are people in this state who suffer every day from constant pain, nausea or clouded vision. Many of them are elderly. Many of them know the number of days they have left on this Earth is limited, and they just want to get through those days pain-free. Thus, many of them risk criminal prosecution because they grow marijuana at home or get friends or relatives to buy it for them.Monday was the deadline for would-be marijuana growers and sellers to apply to the state for a license. Twenty applications were received by the state. However, many organizations that wanted to apply did not because of the rules being in flux -- because the uncertainty means it's impossible to figure out a business model that will be successful.These organizations' fears are not unfounded. Not having rules for medical marijuana in place has put the whole program into a quagmire.To move forward, the Christie administration, which has agreed to some modest compromises so far, has to give a little more.Particularly, the administration should drop its proposed limit on the level of THC -- the psychoactive chemical in marijuana that gives it its properties -- to 10 percent in any medical marijuana prescribed in the state. That is a foolish idea. By weakening the marijuana patients could use to relieve their symptoms, patients would have to smoke more to get the same pain relief derived from smoking or injesting marijuana they grow themselves or buy illegally.No other state or nation that has legalized medical marijuana caps the percentage of THC as the proposed rules in New Jersey do.The administration gave ground in December by compromising on the number of sites where medical marijuana could be grown and distributed. It also allowed that patients with terminal illnesses shouldn't have to jump through a lot of hoops about proving they've exhausted all other available treatments to get a prescription for medical marijuana.With how stringent the guidelines will be for getting a prescription and obtaining marijuana through this program, we don't see why the administration must insist on a conjured number regarding the percentage of THC in the marijuana, particularly when that will lead to one of two undesired results -- patients smoking far more marijuana than they do now or patients continuing to illegally buy or grow marijuana.Medical marijuana advocates who have testified in Trenton and their supporters in the Legislature, including a handful of key Democrats, want the THC limit removed before they'll give their stamp of approval to proposed medical marijuana guidelines. There's even been some talk of repealing the legislation signed in January 2010 and starting all over again, if the administration won't budge on the rules.That should not happen. The Christie administration needs to make one more sensible concession here. Then, the medical marijuana program has to be put in place. There are long-suffering people in this state -- people like ALS-sufferer Diane Riportella of Egg Harbor Township, who can barely move due to muscle degeneration throughout her body. These patients deserve to be free of the fear of criminal prosecution for simply taking the best medication available for their aches, nausea, clouded vision, seizures and other symptoms.Source: Courier-Post (Cherry Hill, NJ)Published: February 16, 2011Copyright: 2011 Courier-PostURL: Medical Marijuana Archives
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