A year-and-a-half after New Jersey legalized medical marijuana, patients authorized to receive the drug have yet been able to get it. State officials say that after receiving mixed signals from the Obama Administration, they are unsure whether allowing medical marijuana in the state will result in federal prosecution.
The article notes that New Jersey’s medical marijuana law was designed to be the strictest in the United States. It allows medical marijuana to be used only for severe conditions such as cancer and HIV, or when a patient is likely to die within a year.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has not yet said how he will proceed with the issue, The New York Times reports. Six nonprofit organizations have been chosen to grow and dispense marijuana in New Jersey. They say they would need at least four months to get up and running once they were given the green light.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Justice Department announced that medical marijuana dispensaries and licensed growers located in states with medical marijuana laws are not immune from prosecution for violation of federal drug and money-laundering laws. Currently the medical use of marijuana is legal in 16 states and the District of Columbia.
The Justice Department memo follows recent warning letters from the federal government to officials in several states including Washington, California, Colorado, Montana and Rhode Island about medical marijuana laws. The warning letters have prompted several states to start reevaluating their laws. The recent letters from U.S. attorneys indicate that people involved in the growing, dispensing and regulating of medical marijuana have the potential to be prosecuted—even if they are following state laws.