Pot plants, now about a foot tall, are legally spreading their fine leaflets in a secure warehouse in some undisclosed location in New Jersey.
We should all be rooting for these plants to thrive. They spell pain relief for people suffering from chronic illnesses such as cancer and multiple sclerosis. These plants offer a long-awaited sign that the state’s medical marijuana program may finally get off the ground, despite Gov. Chris Christie’s bureaucratic foot-dragging and the unfounded fretting of local governments.
The plants are being carefully tended by Greenleaf Compassion Center, which is preparing to open in Montclair in September — the first dispensary in the state. Another nonprofit group plans to start harvesting in November. But what about the other five centers? They were all originally scheduled to open last July. There’s no need for any more dawdling. Legislators should hold a hearing to examine their progress, as Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer) has called for.
But even as New Jersey’s first pot plants reach for the light, another important initiative seems to be buried, for now: the effort to end the destructive witch hunt over possession of small amounts of marijuana. A bill that would reduce penalties, making possession the equivalent of a traffic ticket with a small fine that brings no criminal record, is stalled in the state Senate. Christie has vowed to veto it, in defiance of most voters in this state.
This is Christie cultivating his national political image. Because as the former prosecutor surely knows, petty pot prosecutions leave law enforcement with fewer resources to chase truly dangerous criminals. They also drag too many young people into the court system, leaving them branded with criminal records that can make it impossible to land a job. Why rely on criminal sanctions when that causes so much collateral damage?
For many dying patients, marijuana could be the only solace. So while the governor is forcing us to wait for a more rational approach to marijuana prosecutions, let’s at least expedite access to the drug for sick people who desperately need it.
After all, New Jersey’s medical marijuana program, the 19th in the country, is one of the strictest. The operators of these centers undergo extensive, months-long background checks.
For patients, the qualifying conditions are narrowly defined; unlike many states, New Jersey doesn’t include chronic pain or anxiety. People who want medical marijuana must maintain an ongoing relationship with their recommending doctor, and they can’t get pot above a certain level of potency.
So let’s get all the pot centers open for business. They are safe and set to go.
News Hawk- TruthSeekr420 420 MAGAZINE
Author: Star-Ledger Editorial Board
Contact: Contact Us - NJ.com
Website: Get moving on medical marijuana dispensaries | NJ.com