New Jersey’s Medical Marijuana Program Could Begin by the End of 2011


After complications, New Jersey will move forward with its medical marijuana program, Governor Chris Christie said on Tuesday. The bill, signed into law by former Governor Jon S. Corzine, a Democrat, on his last day in office back in January of 2010, was supposed to make way for operation within six months, but Republican Governor Christie postponed the program due to concerns over how the federal government would respond. But now Christie says approved users will not be prosecuted under federal laws and six state marijuana dispensaries could be open by the end of the year.

In order to ensure that the program would comply with all federal regulations, Christie imposed a number of restrictions on the bill including limiting the number of dispensaries and the strength of the drug, forbidding home deliveries, restricting use to a short list of diseases, and prohibiting the sale of weed in edible forms.

Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, one of the bill’s main sponsors, said he had hoped that the governor would tone down the restrictions, but that he isn’t going to argue. “I would rather we address these things over the long term so that we can get the program up and running as quickly as possible,” he said.

New Jersey is now one of 16 states with medical marijuana laws, and of those states, it has the strictest regulations.