New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie drew criticism from patients and advocacy groups for delaying the state’s medical marijuana program to seek further input from officials at the Dept. of Justice. Many felt it was an attempt to stall the program indefinitely, but Christie proved his critics wrong:
Gov. Chris Christie gave the green light to New Jersey’s medical marijuana program on Tuesday, saying he believes the state’s narrow initiative would not run afoul of federal prosecutors.
In response to New Jersey and other states with budding medical marijuana programs, the Justice Department issued a memo on June 29 reiterating that small, focused state programs would not be a top priority for law enforcement.
“It is likely not an efficient use of federal resources to focus enforcement efforts on individuals with cancer or other serious illnesses who use marijuana as part of a recommended treatment regimen consistent with applicable state law, or their caregiver,” the department said.
Mr. Christie said that while the memo did not directly address the issue, his experience as a former U.S. attorney allowed him to read between the lines.
“They were clearly trying to send us a signal,” he said. He also cited then-candidate Barack Obama’s comments to an Oregon newspaper in 2008, when he said prosecution of medical marijuana users and dispensers would not be “real high” on his priority list as president. [WSJ]
New Jersey’s decision to move forward sends an important message to other states that have delayed implementation in response to conflicting messages from federal officials. Medical marijuana is an industry that continues to move forward at the state level, but is not likely to receive an unequivocal pledge of support from Washington, D.C. in the immediate future. That’s just the nature of the business and Gov. Christie deserves credit for making the right move.