NJ and the Failing Medical Marijuana Program

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October 22, 2014

With stories like those of Jennie Stormes and her son Jax, how can people still be against medical marijuana? I just don't get it. To have Jax be able to go from hundreds of seizures in a week to not having a seizure for 10 days is phenomenal … and to have people be against this is downright perplexing. It demonstrates ignorance and even cruelty, in my opinion. And the Stormes' story is just one of many, many similar stories out there. And that's just related to seizures in children.

As a resident of New Jersey, I repeatedly see and hear the frustration over the delays in the medical marijuana program development (exemplified by the Stormes' move to Colorado for the sake of their son's health)–the limited approved diseases and illnesses, the delays in approving patients for MMJ cards, the lack of access (with just 3 dispensaries now open four years into NJ's MMJ program), and doctors remaining hesitant to get behind a drug that is still federally illegal. Stormes is not the only NJ MJ refugee to Colorado.

Many find Governor Christie to blame, as he has openly opposed medical marijuana. Even a new bill that's being proposed is expected to be dead in the water–to be shut down by Christie. As the article in NJ Monthly explains: "In New Jersey, an Assembly bill to modify the state’s MMP was introduced in July. The bill would allow edibles for adults, add to the number of medical conditions that qualify for treatment, and remove the requirement that minors must have a psychiatric evaluation. The sales tax on medical cannabis and the renewal fee for registration would be eliminated. If the bill is passed, Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-Scotch Plains) one of its sponsors, expects Christie will not sign it."

The answer? It's not an easy one. The governor's seat isn't up for reelection until 2018, which makes for a very long wait for serious change, unless the New Jersey government can push Christie hard on marijuana issues (not likely). I used to think Christie was more liberal than he appeared, acting in ways the thought were safe to maintain Republican support. I thought he would publicly state his opposition to marijuana, but then, as he did with gay marriage, not get in the way. But through his continued actions, he is proving himself a staunch Republican with ignorant views of the medicinal value of marijuana, and he continues to pose a threat to real progress in the Garden State.