Attorney General Paula Dow sat down with the Coalition for Medical Marijuana NJ (CMMNJ) on May 24th at her office in Trenton. The AG and her staff held the meeting to hear concerns from local advocates about the compassionate use marijuana program that has now been suspended by Governor Christie.
Ken Wolski RN, the executive director of CMMNJ, was grateful for the interaction.
“Attorney General Paula Dow and First Assistant Phillip Kwon took time out their demanding schedules to listen to some very serious issues for New Jersey’s medical marijuana law,” said Wolski, “Qualifying patients continue to wait for this program and we hope that some of their concerns were heard. The Office of the Attorney General plays a key role in the implementation and administration of the compassionate use law.”
On April 22, 2011 Dow sent a letter to the Department of Justice in Washington DC requesting clarification about the medical marijuana law. Several US Attorneys have recently issued letters in other states with a clear description of how federal authorities will prosecute medical marijuana facilities, even if they are permitted under state law. In Washington, Montana and other states the letters were accompanied by DEA raids of local medical cannabis dispensaries.
NJ Attorney General Paula Dow stated in the meeting that she sent a follow-up letter to the US Department of Justice, addressed to US Attorney General Eric Holder, on May 23, 2011.
Paul Fishman, the US Attorney for New Jersey, has not sent any communication regarding the NJ medical marijuana law before or after Dow’s requests. A spokesperson atthe US DOJ said the April 22nd letter from New Jersey had been received and was under review.
Chris Goldstein, the media coordinator at CMMNJ also attended the meeting.
“Not a single person in New Jersey has been able to register for medical cannabis, despite many promises from Governor Christie,” said Goldstein, “But I think that we had a meaningful exchange of new ideas with Attorney General Dow. The intent of The Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act is to grant legal access to seriously ill residents. There are some methods that the AG’s office can explore to actively protect New Jersey’s medical cannabis patients today.”
New Jersey passed the first compassionate use law in the country that forces patients into a centralized system of just six Alternative Treatment Centers to access all of their state-legal cannabis. There are no provisions in the NJ law to allow patients or caregivers to cultivate cannabis on their own. The law was supposed to have been fully implemented in the summer of 2010 but has suffered numerous delays.
CMMNJ’s Ken Wolski is looking forward to meeting with the one state official who has exercised the most influence over the medical marijuana law: Governor Chris Christie.
“It is long past time for Governor Christie to actually meet with patients and advocates in our state to discuss the compassionate use law.”