BY CHRISTOPHER ESSNER
In a much-needed move, Governor Christie’s office announced the state is doubling its funding of medical marijuana in his recent budget proposal.
Today there is only one medical marijuana dispensary operational in the entire state, located in Montclair. As the only current dispensary, the Montclair office has experienced major delays. Many of its patients must wait on a list for months, or even as long as a year until their name comes up.
With close to a thousand people registered for medical marijuana, additional offices are sorely needed. In total there are five more medical marijuana dispensaries that have been approved, but three of these do not have approved locations. The remaining two are under construction.
The new budget would allow for $1.6 billion of funding for the medical marijuana program in the state. This money will very likely be used to help speed the process of opening new facilities.
Some of the major health benefits attributed to medicinal marijuana include migraine treatment, chronic disease symptom relief, Alzheimer’s prevention, and slowing of tumor growth. Medicinal Marijuana is also prescribed to help treat diseases such as Cancer, multiple sclerosis, and HIV. For many people with these debilitating injuries, medical marijuana is the only thing that alleviates their pain.
“Patients are being done irreparable harm by not having access to this critical medication,” said Moorestown attorney William H. Buckman in an interview with The Record.
The Governor’s Office says the reason for much of the delay is due to the federal government’s stance on the issue. Medical Marijuana dispensaries in California have faced raids by federal drug agencies.
“…We’re not going to permit a program like this to be started unless that the appropriate safeguards are available,” Governor Christie said in comments made to reporters this past year.
Recent referendums passed in Colorado and Washington legalized the recreational use of marijuana in their own states. These referendums are expected by some to be challenged in Federal court.
Others argue that the state has had more than enough time to support this program. Former governor Jon Corzine signed “The Compassionate Use of Medical Marijuana Act” into law on January 11, 2010. For comparison, New Mexico passed its own law legalizing medical marijuana just a year and a half ago. Today they have three dispensaries open.
“I want to have a compassionate program that makes this available for people in New Jersey who have no other alternative and who can find relief from their pain,” Christie said. “I do not want this to become a cottage industry for unscrupulous doctors who will write prescriptions no matter what and for folks who might run these facilities who care more about profit than they care about compassionate care for individual citizens who qualify for it.”
Well, if the Governor’s recent proposal is passed, this very idea may finally come to full fruition for New Jersey residents in need.