New Jersey State Senate Bill 2842 and Assembly Bill 4241 were passed in the final week of June and were rushed immediately to Governor Chris Christie’s desk to sign into law. Passing by a lopsided 25-13 margin in the Senate, and an uneventful amendment process in the General Assembly, the bill is intended to ease dogmatic restrictions on what many consider to be a farce of a medical marijuana program.
Early last month, on July 9th, the bill was still sitting, unsigned, on Gov. Christie’s desk as he partied with Bon frickin’ Jovi. Unconcerned, Governor Christie has repeatedly stated that there is “no crisis” in the state’s medical marijuana program, even though the state’s only dispensary has been closed since June due to a “lack of inventory”.
Last Thursday, New Jersey State Health Commissioner Mary O’Dowd announced that a new care center would be opening in Egg Harbor, NJ, bringing the grand total back to… 1. The new dispensary plans to offer high-CBD/low-THC options to the flood of patients that it expects to receive, but still current state law prohibits the manufacture and sale of those same strains in an edible form. This fact is a main point of contention for local New Jersey medical marijuana advocates who say that they have not yet been able to get a face-to-face meeting with the Governor on the issue.
Again, the Governor is a busy man and campaigning for a living is difficult work. After a weeks-long dick-measuring contest with Kentucky Senator Rand Paul – on display for the world but aimed directly at likely Iowa Straw Poll voters – Christie continued to avoid the pesky business of governing for another mini-vacay, this time to Las Vegas.
While the critical unsigned cannabis legislation gathered dust on his rarely used desk, the gluttonous governor spent his time early last week in Sin City being wined and dined by his old pal, multi-billionaire Republican donor Sheldon Adelson. In a political system dominated by campaign spending, Adelson is an undisputed king-maker in Republican political finance, and it is clear that Governor Christie is looking past current events in New Jersey, such as his own gubernatorial re-election effort in 2014, focusing instead on the 2016 Presidential race.
Back in town for a radio interview last Thursday, the Governor was asked by a caller about what he intended to do with the amended medical marijuana bill currently awaiting his decision. The man who wants to take the torch for the Conservative movement in this nation, the man who bemoans “big government” any time the mic is on and the cameras are rolling, replied by saying, “I know that parents are concerned for the health of their children. I have to be concerned about the health of every child.”
Paul Mulshine of The Star Ledger in New Jersey expertly dissected that quote and in doing so, exposed a serious hypocrisy in Chris Christie’s alleged political ideology. It is not the government’s job to worry about every kid, and even the most liberal among us would agree that it is ultimately a parent’s responsibility to be concerned for their children.
It is that very real concern that Brian Wilson, of Scotch Plains, NJ, has for his daughter Vivian, who is unable to receive cannabis-related treatments under the current state laws. Scott is not alone, however, as the Governor has over 2,200 letters on his desk from local cannabis advocates, sitting beside the unsigned legislation, urging him to do the right thing and sign the bill into law.
Christie now has until this Thursday, August 8th, to sign the bill into law, veto it outright, or issue a conditional veto in which he sends the bill back to New Jersey lawmakers with specific instructions on changes that need to be made. Sure, he’s had well over a month to do so, but running for President of the United States for three or four years can fill up a man’s schedule.
Even though 86% of registered voters surveyed in New Jersey in 2011 favored medical marijuana, and despite the bi-partisan support that the current reform bill passed with, Christie’s milquetoast answers on the issue suggest that “likely voters” and big-money donors in battleground states may be steering what ought to be a local New Jersey issue.
If Governor Christie truly has aspirations to be President one day, this one move in favor of states’ rights, and in favor of science and progress, could capture the attention of an ever-growing voting bloc of cannabis advocates that, so far, have been neglected by all parties. Do the right thing, Governor.