After placing medical marijuana on the backburner for three months, and leaving many people suspicious that it would never come to fruition, Governor Chris Christie has given state officials the ok to get the program up in running, possibly by the end of the year. And he hasn’t only asked them to move ahead with the plan, but to “move forward as expeditiously as possible.”
Governor Christie had put the program on hold because he wanted to know for certain if state workers involved in the program would be vulnerable to federal prosecution, since selling and possessing marijuana is a federal offense. Following a memo released by United States Deputy Attorney general James Cole, he said he felt more confident that New Jersey workers would not be scrutinized by the feds.
Since the beginning of 2011, federal law enforcement has raided numerous dispensaries in other medical marijuana states. Warning letters were also sent out by the U.S. Justice Department to alert states that their legislation did not negate the federal controlled substances act, which still considers marijuana to be a Schedule I drug.
Cole’s memo didn’t explicitly state that state medical marijuana workers would be immune from investigation or arrest but gave Christie the feeling that they would remain unbothered if they stayed within the tight restrictions under the New Jersey medical marijuana program (referred to as one of the most restrictive).
Christie seems more dedicated than ever to getting the program in full swing. He said he would be disappointed if the dispensaries weren’t up and running by the end of the year. The president of Compassionate Care Foundation Inc, one organization planning on opening a dispensary in New Brunswick, says the best-case scenario is that they will be able to provide patients with their marijuana by right after Thanksgiving.
This news is hopeful for people suffering from chronic, debilitating diseases that would qualify for the drug. Those who have been recommended by their physician to participate in the medical marijuana program will be required to apply for an identification card and register with the state.
Although New Jersey will be the latest state to throw their hat in the medical marijuana ring, officials remain steadfast in their desire to keep the program as limited and as tightly controlled as possible. This could certainly mean that those not authorized to smoke under the medical marijuana program will face just as harsh if not more serious penalties than before.
If you’re facing marijuana charges, you will face the courts and you could go to jail. Contact my offices today to discuss your charges and what options may be available to you.