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Gov. Chris Christie’s been stalling on the state’s medical marijuana program for very sick and dying patients, saying it won’t move forward until federal authorities assure him there won’t be arrests or prosecutions.
It’s a needless delay tactic. After all, the Obama administration has repeatedly indicated it won’t prosecute those who abide by their state’s medical marijuana programs. (Marijuana violates federal laws, even though 16 states have made it legal for some medical purposes.)
But in any case, now our governor has his answer: If the program’s operation is kept small and controlled, it’s not likely to warrant any action by federal law enforcement. That’s what a recent memo from the U.S. deputy attorney general, forwarded to state Attorney General Paula Dow, strongly indicates.
So unless you’re raking in millions of dollars or engaged in suspicious activity, your medical marijuana facility won’t be of interest to the feds. They’d rather use their limited resources on threats to public safety: In Montana, federal authorities conducted raids on 26 medical marijuana dispensaries in 13 cities because there was “probable cause” they were involved in illegal, large-scale trafficking. Those facilities weren’t licensed by the state.
In New Mexico, which has smaller scale, well-regulated, state-licensed dispensaries, there’s been no interference from the federal government. No state workers have ever been threatened with prosecution.
That’s because the feds aren’t interested in chasing after people with terminal illnesses using marijuana, or those responsibly growing it for them.
Six nonprofit companies already have been approved to grow and sell the drug in New Jersey, and they’re preparing to get started sometime this summer or fall. More than 80 percent of New Jerseyans favor medical marijuana, and it’s an issue with strong bipartisan support.
So no more excuses, Governor. Quit the foot-dragging and make this drug available to those who need it — fast.