N.J. Sen. Scutari to schedule hearing to void proposed medical marijuana rules
TRENTON — A state senator said he's taking the next step toward voiding Gov. Chris Christie's proposed strict medical marijuana regulations after the Christie administration missed today's deadline to submit a new version of them.
A hearing on the issue has been scheduled for Jan. 20 before the state Senate's health committee.
That's the next step in a little-used legislative process to force an administration to redo regulations — the nuts-and-bolts of how a law is to be carried out. After the hearing, lawmakers could vote to require the Republican governor's administration to write new rules, said state Sen. Nicholas Scutari, a Democrat from Linden.
The issue is simple: Legislators believe the Christie administration's plan on how to disburse marijuana to patients is so restrictive that it undermines the intent of the law adopted last year to do so.
The proposed regulations are the only ones in the nation to limit the potency and variety of pot that's made available to patients. They also require doctors who recommend marijuana to undergo more training.
New Jersey became the 14th state to adopt a law allowing patients with some medical conditions to use pot to ease their symptoms. People with glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and other conditions say the drug can help relieve pain and nausea.
Signing the bill was one of the last acts as governor for Democrat Jon Corzine. A day later, Christie, who upset Corzine in an election the previous year, was sworn in.
Christie said he supported the concept of medical marijuana — but not the law that Corzine signed.
His critics on the issue say he tried to use the regulations to rewrite the law.
Christie says he's just using his authority to fill in blanks left in the law.
Last month, Christie struck a deal with Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, a Democrat from Princeton who pushed for legal cannabis for patients, to make changes to his regulations. Among them: allowing six establishments to both grow and distribute the drug — as the law called for. Previously, Christie had wanted only two places to be allowed to grow it and four to distribute it.
But Scutari, the Legislature's other chief advocate of medical pot, didn't agree to the deal. And 10 days after it was struck, the Senate sided with him and voted to tell the administration that the regulations didn't meet the Legislature's intent.
The vote gave the Christie administration 30 days to draft new regulations. Scutari said Christie hasn't complied with that resolution — or even formally introduced the reworked regulations from the deal he struck with Gusciora.
"He hasn't even done what he said he would do," Scutari said.
A spokeswoman for the state Department of Health and Senior Services didn't immediately return a call from The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Chris Goldstein, a spokesman for the Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey, founded in 2003 to support legalization efforts, said it's frustrating for patients that legal pot isn't available yet to patients who would qualify for it.
"A year later, we thought we would have the program running, and we don't," he said. "There's not a cannabis plant growing yet."
Marijuana statements show AG John Suthers needs to get a life, says advocate Brian Vicente
In touting the break-up of an alleged drug ring said to be using medical marijuana as cover, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers suggested a link between the MMJ biz and illegal dealing.
"This case, while disturbing, should come as no surprise to Coloradans who have been concerned that there is a nexus between Colorado's booming medical marijuana industry and illegal distribution of the drug. This case counters the contention among marijuana advocates and some public officials that a regulated medical marijuana system will undercut the illicit market for marijuana."
Oakland city officials subject to arrest over pot laws
OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Oakland is facing another possible legal hurdle in its efforts to regulate and tax marijuana farms.
The website California Watch obtained a letter sent by Alameda County district attorney to Mayor-elect Jean Quan. The district attorney warns that city officials could be subject to arrest by federal drug agents if they decide Oakland is violating California's medical marijuana law.
The Oakland city council approved an ordinance allowing marijuana cultivation in July. It is set to meet Tuesday to discuss the issue. Applications for marijuana growing permits are due the next day.
Former NM Gov. Gary Johnson: I smoked pot from 2005-2008
I was gonna join the Chamber of Commerce, but then I got high
I was gonna join the chamber, but then I got high
Don't think those suits over at the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce are a bunch of stodgy old squares. On Wednesday, they'll link arms with the long-haired hipsters who run one of San Jose's premier medical marijuana shops -- Harborside Health Center -- for a ribbon-cutting.
Did the chamber types think Harborside was some chichi spa? Nope. Outgoing CEO Pat Dando said they were fully hip. They checked things out and concluded the dope distributors were worthy.
Harborside has been a chamber member for a year, Dando said, and its Oakland site has been a member of that city's chamber of commerce, too.
"They are a business in good standing with the city," Dando said.
Well, kind of. Harborside has certainly made every effort to comply with government rules. Wednesday's ribbon-cutting is billed as "an event to foster positive community relations." Harborside even boasts it has made contributions to the community by sponsoring toy and blood drives.
But San Jose technically doesn't allow medical marijuana outfits. While the city is considering possible medical marijuana zoning, that's yet to be approved; a council discussion is scheduled for Dec. 13. In the meantime, medical marijuana collectives remain about as legal under San Jose zoning as brothels.
Dando said that, much like city officials caught in the fog of conflicting marijuana laws, the chamber is feeling its way through the haze.
"It's one of those unusual circumstances we deal with," Dando said. "Truth be told, this is new territory."
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Good & Bad News for California Medical Marijuana Patients
First, the good news: California attorney general candidate Steve Cooleyconceded the election to his opponent, Kamala Harris. While Harris may not be the most outspoken supporter of Prop 215 or medical marijuana patients, she is sure to be a better option.
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