New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has said he won’t sign a bill that would make it easier for patients to get their hands on the medical marijuana they need.
The bill would make it possible for New Jersey patients to buy the pot they need in other states where it’s legal, then bring it back home. That would make it easier to find particular strains of cannabis that help particular illnesses.
Christie said he’s “not open to it.” The proposal, he said, is a backdoor to legalization for everyone.
“See, this is what happens,” Christie told reporters Dec. 2. “Every time you sign one expansion, then the advocates will come back and ask for another one. Here’s what the advocates want: They want legalization of marijuana in New Jersey. It will not happen on my watch, ever. I am done expanding the medical marijuana program under any circumstances. So we’re done.”
New Jersey legalized medical marijuana in 2010, but Christie has stood in the way of the program at almost every turn. Patients finally began receiving their medicine late last year. The state currently has just two working dispensaries, with a third set to open this month.
The state’s rules, and Christie’s grip on the system, are so tight patients have little selection. The three dispensaries cover North, Central and South Jersey, but only a limited number of strains are available. Just 1,500 patients are currently registered under the system, a small fraction of those who are eligible.
Certain debilitating conditions, such as severe seizure disorders, require certain strains of weed that may not be available in New Jersey. Such is the case for Vivian Wilson, a 2-1/2-year-old girl with a drug-resistant form of epilepsy. She requires a strain of medical marijuana that is produced mostly in Colorado – a strain that quiets her seizures but doesn’t get her high.
Vivian’s parents, Meghan and Brian Wilson, successfully pushed Christie to lift restrictions that kept Vivian from receiving any medical pot at all. Earlier this year, the governor said he would allow children with serious conditions to use edible MMJ products as long as they obtain recommendations from two doctors.
That removed one major obstacle for the Wilsons and families like theirs, but it didn’t solve their problem. More strains are available now as more dispensaries open, but neither of the operating pot shops make edibles.
The new bill is sponsored by state Assemblywoman Linda Stender, a Democrat. She said Christie was ignoring the needs of patients and misrepresenting the legislation.
“It’s not about marijuana legalization for recreational use, this is about legitimate access for sick people who need it,” Stender said. “It infuriates me he is so cold-hearted to the needs of the people he is supposed to represent.”