New Jersey Cannabis Reformer Governor Vetoes Industrial Hemp Bill

By Michael Chazukow 

NEW JERSEY:  Most cameras in Trenton were fixed on Governor Christie’s scandal hearings last week.   The “Bridge-gate” controversy as well as allegations that he misused Sandy Relief funds has been so dominant in the news that the excellent work of our legislature was being overlooked.  Controversy hearings dominated our capitol last week, and the Governor’s second term inauguration events were also well covered.  So as usual, mainstream media was too pre-occupied to report Chris Christie’s actions to double-down on our state’s draconian cannabis laws.

Last week, two cannabis reform bills were passed through the NJ Legislature:  S1220 would have “required registered qualifying patient’s authorized use of medical marijuana to be considered equivalent to use of any other prescribed medication and not the use of an illicit substance that would otherwise disqualify a qualifying patient from needed medical care, including organ transplants.”

The second bill, S3110, would create an industrial hemp license.  As many expected, Governor Christie vetoed both bills without comment despite overwhelming approval from the NJ Legislature.

The governor had said last month, “The program works fine…I am done expanding the medical marijuana program under any circumstances.  So we’re done.   So NJ Medical marijuana patients take warning; your governor thinks its fine to deny your organ transplants for no reason other than registering with the medical marijuana program.  How can the governor deny organ transplants to people who are truly ill and still claim as he said, “the program works fine for people who are truly ill”?  How can anyone justify this?  Governor Christie, you owe New Jersey an explanation.

The governor also vetoed industrial hemp, which can not even be used as a drug at all.  Hemp is not marijuana, it is industry. This is not at all controversial.  It was a common sense measure but Chris Christie is not only against marijuana, he is against using cannabis for non-drug purposes as well.  His reason, I can only assume is as he said last month, “…Because what they want is legalization. They’re not getting legalization under this governor. They’ll have to elect someone else and they don’t get another chance for that for four years.”

Governor Christie, you missed a rare opportunity to show leadership on the cannabis issue.  You denied the Garden State this opportunity for an emerging agricultural industry and you are discriminating against our ill residents, based solely on their particular prescribed medication.  New Jersey deserves and expects better.   Governor, you must honestly join the conversation about cannabis.  The current policies do not work and we need a new approach.  Frankly, it doesn’t matter if “they” really want legalization, Governor.  Whether you give “them” legalization or not, either way, your work is far from done.

Michael Chazukow is the owner of Hemp Heaven LLC and sits on the Board of Directors for NORML NJ as Outreach Director. You may contact him:

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