Christie to Let Medical Pot Law Go Forward

By Beth DeFalco
|  Wednesday, Jul 20, 2011  |  Updated 7:05 AM EDT
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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he will allow the state's medical marijuana law to move forward.

New Jersey legalized marijuana for patients with certain conditions days before Christie, a Republican, took office in January 2010, but implementation has been delayed as the state has labored over regulatory details.

Christie has said he supports the concept of medical marijuana for patients for some conditions but didn't think the law was tough enough. His critics say he has used the regulatory process to change the law, even though it's considered among the most restrictive.

During a talk-show appearance in June, Christie said he wanted assurance from federal prosecutors that they won't pursue criminal charges against state-sanctioned medical marijuana programs before he agreed to implement the law.

He didn't get that assurance, but says he doesn't believe federal authorities will expend limited resources to go after people complying with state law.

This year, six nonprofit groups were awarded licenses to grow and sell pot to patients with conditions such as terminal cancer, glaucoma and multiple sclerosis. Some patients say the drug eases pain and nausea. But so far, none has been legally sold because the state has not created a registry of patients who can, under state law, use the drug.

Some of the groups licensed to grow buds have said they realize they would be violating federal law and are willing to risk prosecution to launch their businesses. The organizations that are allowed to grow and sell marijuana to patients with certain medical conditions are not-for-profit but the size of the operations is unclear since they haven't been allowed to start dispensing the drug.

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