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News (Media Awareness Project) - US NJ: Editorial: Medical Marijuana Sites Need Easier Path
Title:US NJ: Editorial: Medical Marijuana Sites Need Easier Path
Published On:2012-01-24
Source:Today's Sunbeam (NJ)
Fetched On:2012-01-27 06:01:23

It's shameful that chronically ill people in South Jersey still can't
get marijuana for medicinal purposes, even though the state law that
allows it was signed two years ago.

Gov. Chris Christie, never a big fan of this law that preceded him
into office, at first delayed the strict regulations that were to
govern the production, sale and access. There were to be six sites
initially, with a couple of them in South Jersey.

The operators were eventually granted approval, but then they ran
into a problem that even the law's strongest advocates didn't expect:
"Not in my backyard" (NIMBY) syndrome. The dispensaries can't find a
home. In South Jersey, the two chosen organizations have met local
regulatory opposition in Maple Shade, Westampton Township and even
Camden. And these are supposed to be tax-paying enterprises.

Patients such as Elise Segal of Wenonah, who has chronic multiple
sclerosis, are still waiting for what may be the only product that
can give them pain relief. Remember, the name of the law is the
"Compassionate Use Act."

Lawmakers and regulators need to step up.

It's not fair for licensees, such as Compassionate Sciences Inc.,
which struck out in Maple Shade, to be subject to endless zoning battles.

What to do? First, a try a vendor/state sponsored education campaign.
Fears about crime and undesirables should not border on the
irrational and prompt bogus zoning rejections.

The warehouse-like growing/dispensing facilities would be more like
tightly-run State Stores (the old-style ones in Pennsylvania, with
nothing on display) than wide-open commercial liquor stores. The
patient base that can access the marijuana would be small, screened
and registered with the state.

Or, how about allowing these sites temporarily on public property,
such as willing college campuses? Also, consider separating growing
and distribution operations, since some rural areas might accept a
cannabis "farm" under right-to-farm laws.

Only as a last resort should the state consider legislation to
override local zoning decisions. Let's get at least one South Jersey
site operational without taking that rash step.
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