New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said he plans to lift a suspension on implementing the state’s medical-marijuana program.
Christie, a first-term Republican and former U.S. prosecutor, told reporters he doesn’t believe federal law- enforcement officials will go after dispensaries of medical marijuana or state workers who help to implement the program.
“I believe that the need to provide compassionate pain relief to these citizens of our state outweighs the risk we are taking in moving forward with the program,” Christie said today in Trenton.
Former Governor Jon Corzine, a Democrat who Christie succeeded, signed a law in 2009 legalizing marijuana for medicinal use in New Jersey by those suffering from cancer, acquired immune deficiency syndrome and other afflictions.
Christie, who took office in 2010, initially sought to reduce the number of marijuana dispensaries and to place more regulations on how the drug was grown and prescribed, saying he wanted to prevent abuse.
In December, the governor announced a compromise that would allow six centers statewide to grow and dispense pot. It would also limit the potency of the prescribed drug.
Christie said last month he would delay New Jersey’s medical-marijuana law until getting clarification from U.S. authorities over whether workers would face federal charges. The sale and possession of pot is illegal under federal law, even for medical use.
Risk Worth Taking
“It’s a risk worth taking” to alleviate pain, Christie said. New Jersey’s medical-marijuana law allows for a “narrow, medically based program,” he said.
New Jersey’s health department will contact the six dispensaries today and expects to hear back from them within a week about their readiness to open, Christie said. The state plans to move forward “as expeditiously as possible,” he said.
Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical purposes, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington-based group that wants the drug legalized and regulated for all users.
--Editors: Stacie Servetah, Ted Bunker
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