A proposed New Jersey bill that would “allow” other patients to purchase medical cannabis out of state and then bring it back to New Jersey passed through a state Assembly committee yesterday.
The bill has a number of setbacks, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie who has said he is done expanding the state’s medical marijuana program. The other setback is that a marijuana laws passed in New Jersey have no bearing in other states.
As we pointed out earlier this month, the bill was created with good intentions. Specifically: the parents of a sick child were hoping to purchase a strain of cannabis from Colorado and bring it back to New Jersey. Sounds like a good idea, and currently a handful of states already do allow medical marijuana patients from out of state to visit and purchase cannabis at dispensaries or, at the very least, possess and use cannabis while visiting. Arizona and Connecticut, for example.
But passing a law in New Jersey won’t make other states like California and Colorado that do not allow for reciprocation to accept New Jersey patients. That change would have to be made in California or Colorado (or any of the other non-reciprocating states).
The one change the bill would make would be to allow medical marijuana patients from other states to purchase, possess and use cannabis in New Jersey legally. However, it is also a statement against the snail-speed at which the New Jersey medical marijuana program has been moving lately.
“Our medical marijuana program is not functioning the way it should be and approved participants have not been able to get the medicine they need,” the bill’s sponsor, Assemblywoman Linda Stender, said in a release. “In no way will this bill expand any of the requirements for participation. Instead, it will allow people who have been approved into the program within the existing limitations to access the strains that they need in the event of a lack of availability within our own program.”
Christie said the bill wasn’t even worth his consideration, and it seems that the Republicans on the committee towed Christie’s line.
In the end, though, it might not matter what Christie has to say. The Transportation Security Administration has said on several occasions that medical marijuana patients can fly between states with reciprocal medical (or recreational) marijuana laws so long as they are following the laws of the states they are visiting. As we said last week, it is a legal gray area since transporting cannabis across state lines is a federal crime, but the proposed New Jersey bill wouldn’t change that either.
New Jersey currently has about 1,500 medical marijuana patients on the state registry, served by three dispensaries spread out across the state. Patients are not allowed to cultivate their own cannabis at home.