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Christie Agrees to New Jersey Medical-Marijuana Regulations

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Dec. 3 (Bloomberg) -- New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said he agreed to a compromise on the state’s medical marijuana regulations that will have the program operating by the summer.

New Jersey in January became the 14th U.S. state to legalize medical marijuana under a bill signed by former Governor Jon Corzine, a Democrat, before he left office. Rules of the program initially proposed by Christie’s administration were too restrictive, said Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, a Democrat from Princeton who was the law’s primary sponsor.

Under Christie’s compromise with Gusciora, New Jersey will license six centers to grow and dispense medical marijuana to patients with chronic illnesses including glaucoma and seizure disorders. The state also will monitor the strength of the drug, which is produced from the cannabis plant and is illegal for recreational use in the U.S.

The new rules represent “the best way to move forward on a responsible, medically-based program that will avoid the fraud and criminal-diversion problems that other states have experienced,” Christie, a first-term Republican, told reporters today in Trenton, naming California and Colorado as examples.

Christie had initially wanted fewer dispensaries and more regulations on how the drug was grown and prescribed. The governor said he was never opposed to the program, and wanted to ensure it would not result in abuse.

The law will allow a person to purchase a maximum of 2 ounces a month of marijuana from the treatment centers after a doctor has certified that they aren’t responding to more traditional therapies. Home delivery and satellite locations for the centers won’t be allowed.

“We’re affording people a greater chance of receiving the care that they need in their time of pain,” Gusciora said. “Politics have been pushed aside to focus on the truly important issue in this matter, and that is the patients’ needs.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Terrence Dopp in Trenton, New Jersey, at tdopp@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net.

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