THE PATH toward start-up of New Jersey's medical marijuana law has been a slow and painful march, beset by one roadblock after another. Already one of the most stringent laws in the nation, the Garden State version has been further hindered by Governor Christie, who was never excited about its prospects in the first place.
Bureaucratic foot-dragging has dogged the process from Day One, as have repeated skirmishes with legislators about how the law should be implemented. Extensive paperwork has been thrown in at every turn.
And yet, every now and then, some spot of progress is made. As reported Tuesday by Staff Writer Barbara Williams, the Greenleaf Compassion Center in Montclair has become the first facility in the state to be granted a preliminary permit to grow cannabis, and more than 100 physicians have been authorized to prescribe it.
These are small victories, given that the goal of the law - the reason for its existence - is to get marijuana to the people who need it most, people suffering from terminal cancer, chronic pain and glaucoma, and thousands of others who have been forced to wait much too long for the law to take effect. As Williams reports, actual distribution of medical marijuana to patients is still some months away.
"It took 18 months to get to this point, so I really don't know when we're going to be able to dispense it," said Julio Valentin Jr., chief operating officer of Greenleaf. The state said in its announcement that a patient registry is in the "final stages of development" and should be open "in several weeks." All patients must be registered and have a prescription to get marijuana from the dispensary.
The Montclair facility is one of six dispensaries scheduled to be set up around the state. At least one dispensary has met community opposition. And yet the Christie administration has done little to help the process along.
We understand the need to get it right the first time, to make sure certain regulations are followed. And yet it seems too often like we are still debating the merits of the bill, which was signed into law more than two years ago.
Indeed, we are well beyond that. The science outlining the palliative benefits of medical marijuana is well-established. Furthermore, in a Rutgers-Eagleton poll conducted late last year, 86 percent of registered New Jersey voters polled approve making medical marijuana available by prescription.
So again we implore the Christie administration to speed the process, wherever possible, to work with these dispensary operators and give the people what was promised with the signing of this law. Those who need medical marijuana have waited far too long already.
News Hawk - 420 Warrior 420 MAGAZINE
Location: Hackensack, NJ
Source: The Record
Copyright: 2012 North Jersey Media Group Inc.