N.J.’s Medical Marijuana Law Delayed Again; Advocates Upset


Photo: John Munson/The Star-Ledger
Medical marijuana advocates rally at the statehouse to encourage Gov Chris Christie to give up his request to delay enactment of the state’s medical marijuana law by six to 12 months.

​Implementation of New Jersey’s long-awaited medical marijuana law has been delayed once again. Governor Chris Christie’s Republican administration is dragging its feet on implementation of the law that former Democratic Governor Jon Corzine signed in January.

The measure, already the most restrictive in the nation, was passed by the Legislature in January and was scheduled to take effect six months later. Regulations were to be in place by October, when six state-licensed dispensaries would begin selling marijuana to qualified patients.
But on May 21, the Governor’s office suggested the seriously ill patients should just wait for six to 12 more months before they can use the medicine that helps them most.

Atlantic City television station NBC40 spoke to some patients and proponents of the law who have first-hand experience of the benefits of cannabis.

Photo: NBC40
Dr. Steven Fenichel: “To me it’s cruel and arbitrary to deprive a sick patient and a dying patient what is an effective medicine for them”

​Dr. Steven Fenichel, who has also seen marijuana’s benefits, is upset that Gov. Christie’s administration has delayed implementation of the law.
“To me it’s cruel and arbitrary to deprive a sick patient and a dying patient what is an effective medicine for them,” Fenichel said. “And more importantly, it’s inhumane to punish patients whose quality of life depends on their safe access to cannabis.”
Patient Jack O’Brien’s chronic nerve pain, which stems from a birth defect, started tormenting him in his 20s.
“Well, you can imagine a sewing needle about this long,” O’Brien said. “Put them on my tips and just go around tinging them with a hammer. Amplify it by a hundred and put it full time, 24 hours a day. Seven days a week.”
O’Brien has been prescribed hundreds of pills, but due to the adverse effects the harsh pharmaceuticals have on his mood and actions, he says he no longer wants to use conventional treatments.
“I could go and consume a little bit of medical marijuana and I can’t explain how it is to have that relief,” O’Brien said.
“For someone in power, has control over my life… telling me yes you can and yes you can’t have this medicine that makes you feel good; I don’t know if travesty is the right word, but it’s wrong,” O’Brien said.
Patient advocates said on June 3 they will sue if the law’s implementation is delayed, reports Susan K. Livio at NJ.com.
“We will not accept any delay,” said Anne Davis, executive director of the New Jersey chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
“Patients can’t wait anymore,” said Jim Miller, co-founder of the New Jersey Coalition for Medical Marijuana.

Medical marijuana’s future in New Jersey