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article imageNJ Governor moves forward on medical pot law Special

By Abigail Prendergast     Jul 20, 2011 in Politics
New Jersey governor Chris Christie is proposing to move a law that allows usage of medical marijuana forward. Critics of Christie claim that he is trying to do what he can to keep the program from getting off the ground at all.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced that he will permit the garden state to start distributing medicinal marijuana amidst worries regarding potential prosecution of state regulators by federal authorities. During the past few months, New Jersey officials – as well as those in other states – have been unable to determine whether medical cannabis programs could draw fire or even a day in court by federal agents. This is due to a high level of uncertainty the Obama administration has been giving them in regards to such projects.
A memorandum from the Justice Department that was issued late last month had left several questions without answers, and Christie has not disclosed any details about how he plans to go forth with the program. However medicinal marijuana advocates claim that the governor's true intention was to block it altogether since New Jersey state law is rigid enough to not to be defective as far as federal policies are concerned.
New Jersey's law which limits use of medicinal marijuana to patients with severe conditions such as cancer, H.I.V., and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (known more prominently as Lou Gehrig's disease), was signed into law by Jon Corzine on his last day of being governor.
The Christie administration proposed regulations restraining the program even more so late last year. Although some of them were subsequently dropped, the rules that remained limit marijuana strength, do not allow home delivery, prohibit edible forms of it and require patients to prove they have exhausted other more conventional treatments.
Jack Cole of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, or LEAP agrees that Governor Christie is “blocking [the program] and not allowing it to get off the ground.”
Cole spent 26 years on the New Jersey Police Force and for 14 of those years he served as an undercover narcotics officer. He said that during his time as a narc, he noticed nothing done within the system reduced the amount of drug users at all.
While it is unclear as to why Christie or anyone else is power would want to keep such programs from taking off, there are grounds for speculation. One notion is the detrimental effect decriminalizing a substance like marijuana would have on the pharmaceutical industry. The fact that makers of expensive medications would reap the least benefit from allowing medical cannabis to be distributed seems like good incentive on the part of politicians to keep such projects grounded according to Cole who has since retired from the force.
“Marijuana replaces medications that have terrible side effects,” he pointed out. Clinical usage of the substance has also been known to greatly reduce the severe nausea and other complications brought on by chemotherapy. Even though it may not save a cancer patient's life, it has been shown to improve the quality of it and make his or her last days that much more enjoyable.
“It is heartbreaking to imagine that those who only want to [make how they spend their final days of life better] are seen as criminals,” Cole said.
If and when the act to decriminalize medical marijuana is passed, not only will it have a great effect on those who use it to treat conditions, but also society in general Cole said. 1.9 million people were arrested for possession of small amounts of cannabis last year he stated. 22,000 of those arrests were made in the state of New Jersey alone.
“For every arrest an officer will be off the street for eight hours,” Cole added. Between arrests, booking and other procedures required to prosecute offenders, police will able to better utilize their time for other, more violent crimes he said.
“40 percent of murders, 60 percent of rapes and arson, 75 percent of robberies and 90 percent” of home invasions remain unsolved in the United States, Cole said. Not to mention, “22,000 people will not have to be arrested” for committing the crime of only putting something into their body that others wouldn't put into theirs.
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