Friday, July 2, 2010

Implement medical marijuana program

Look at other states and use the best model to get New Jersey's program running this year.

In January, New Jersey became the 14th state to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes. It was an affirmation of what thousands of sufferers of cancer, AIDS, glaucoma and other conditions already know -- that marijuana is one of the few substances, for some, the only substance, that can take away their daily pain and mask some of their symptoms.

New Jersey's law is restrictive, probably more so than all other states that have legalized medical marijuana. Patients certified by a doctor and registered with the state won't be allowed to grow the plant themselves. Rather, they'll have to purchase marijuana from one of a handful of dispensaries around New Jersey that will be created to provide small, strictly governed amounts of marijuana.

The dispensation of medical marijuana to patients was supposed to begin in October, but now the Christie administration wants a delay to fine tune the rules and parameters of the program. One thing Christie's Health and Senior Services commissioner is looking to do is create a single site for growing all the marijuana that would be available to patients who qualify to use medical marijuana.

The administration had sought a delay of up to a year in implementing the law. That's unnecessarily long. State Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, the law's sponsor, has proposed a more reasonable delay of 90 days.

We can understand the governor's desire to get this right. He's trying to ensure that medical marijuana doesn't open a Pandora's box to fully legalized marijuana for recreational use, which is not what the Legislature intended in approving this law.

We just don't see how it would take up to a year to get it right. There are 13 other states that allow patients to use marijuana for legitimate medical purposes. Some of them administer it better than others. Simply look at the other states and find the ones that do it right by making it easy for people who truly need the drug to get it while preventing recreational users from abusing the system to get the drug.

Health and Senior Services need not waste time reinventing the wheel while legitimate sufferers with chronic and even fatal conditions are denied a pain medication that has been shown to work. For many, marijuana has far better results in suppressing nausea, restoring vision and easing pain than any pill or liquid the pharmaceutical industry has come up with.

There are workable medical marijuana programs out there in states that legalized marijuana for this use years ago. Copy how these programs work and get it going in this state quickly. Patients ought to be able to legally obtain marijuana through the state by the end of this year.

1 comment:

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