Gov. Christie announces less restrictive medical marijuana plan

By Maya Rao

Inquirer Staff Writer

TRENTON – Patients could more easily qualify for medical marijuana and buy the drug from a larger number of distribution centers under a deal announced Friday by Gov. Christie, whose administration has fielded criticism for drafting rules considered too restrictive.But the compromise in New Jersey’s medical marijuana program – signed into law in January and expected to be operating by next summer – failed to address a number of patient advocates’ concerns. It also was reached without Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D., Union), chief sponsor of a resolution directing the Christie administration to rewrite the rules.

That resolution passed the lower house on Nov. 23, but its main sponsor there, Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D., Mercer), said at a news conference with Christie politics had been pushed aside “to focus on the truly important matter at hand, and that’s the patient’s need.”

After calling for just two growers and four treatment centers, Christie said Friday he supported allowing six centers to grow and distribute the drug.

In another compromise, the governor also said the regulations would no longer require doctors who recommend marijuana for patients to certify that all conventional treatments had failed. The law had required that provision only for several conditions, such as glaucoma.

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