NJ Medical Marijuana Law About to Take a Hit

Law will be tweaked before it goes into effect

By Brian Thompson
|  Thursday, Jun 17, 2010  |  Updated 5:00 PM EDT
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NJ Medical Marijuana Law About to Take a Hit

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SEATTLE - AUGUST 21: An older woman smokes a marijuana joint at Seattle's Hempfest on August 21, 2004. More than 150,000 people were expected to attend Hempfest at Seattle's Myrtle Edwards Park on Seattle's waterfront on August 21-22, 2004. The event is billed as the world's largest drug-policy reform rally. Events included political speakers and dozens of bands and performers on six stages and over 20 organizations were present registering new voters. (Photo by Ron Wurzer/Getty Images)

New Jersey's landmark medical marijuana law, which was supposed to be up and running by this Fall, may be put on a back burner until early next year.

A compromise is in the works between Governor Chris Christie and legislative sponsors of the law that passed last January to put the law on hold while a few problems are worked out, Philly.com reported.

The deal would give his administration 90 extra days to draw up rules and regulations to put it into effect. The Governor had been asking for six months to a year.

"I've been going off many medications in preparation of this," said Jennifer Land, 27, of Medford, N.J. who said she is not prepared to wait any longer for better relief for her spasticity and other ailments.

"With even a 90 day extension as being proposed next week, patients would not have access at this point until well into 2011," said a dismayed Chris Goldstein of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey on the front steps of City Hall in Jersey City.

But the Governor's Spokesman, Mike Drewniak, made it clear more time is needed.

"It's very important that we get it done correctly, because the unintended consequences of getting it wrong are potentially quite serious," said Drewniak in an email, while citing issues of "security and control in growing and distribution" as well as quality control."

As to the proposed 90-day delay instead of the six months to a year the Administration first requested,  Drewniak wrote "We appreciate the Senator's(Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) understanding of the need for more time to get this right."

"This really argues for an independent Health Department," said Coalition for Medical Marijuana Executive Director Ken Wolski.

He suggested the current Department of Health and Senior Services is "subject to the whims of a brief, political appointment" in criticizing the Christie Administration for not having the program up and running by this Fall, as the new law mandates.

In the meantime, patients who were looking forward to medical marijuana will have to make do with the medications they are on now.

For an individual who would only give his name as 'Lefty' and suffers from spasticity, that means 500 mg of Oxycotin a day, as well as Valium and other drugs.

"The last seven years of my life have been horrible," said 'Lefty.'

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