Two years have gone by since the New Jersey Legislature approved the use of marijuana for medical purposes and then-Gov. Jon Corzine signed the bill into law.
Yet for those who would like to obtain marijuana legally in the Garden State, with a physician’s approval — those suffering from cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and other illnesses — this attempt at medical reform is little more than pipe dream.
The state-supervised “medpot” system is still largely nonexistent.
While the state government overcame the ethical, legal and enforcement obstacles back in 2010, the program’s startup has turned into a zoning battleground around the Garden State.
Several towns have adopted restrictions to effectively outlaw any growing facilities, farms or dispensaries.
“Not here,” in other words.
Judging from the reaction in some parts, you’d think New Jersey was about to become the East Coast equivalent of Amsterdam, with extra-legal pot boutiques popping up like dandelions, competing with the neighborhood bar and grill for clientele.
Yet New Jersey has the most conservative, restrictive medical marijuana program among states that have legalized the medical use of cannabis, with just six providers authorized.
So far only the town of Montclair has seen fit to approve a dispensing operation. Other municipalities have used zoning laws to turn down applications.
It shouldn’t require another act of the Legislature to override these ordinances, to comply with the reasonable and limited scope of the medical marijuana program.
But that’s where some legislators are heading. For example, Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth, is proposing to include medical marijuana under New Jersey’s Right to Farm Act to override any lawsuits or zoning rules that interfere with its production.
That seems like a odd way to address this controversy but not any loonier than passing a “Right to Smoke” act for people looking for pain and wasting relief they cannot get from pharmaceutical drugs.
That industry, by the way, enjoys a healthy presence in New Jersey, because it is a major player in research and human advancement, along with creating wealth and jobs.
Why not marijuana?