Half of NJ Medical Marijuana Tied to Gov Christie

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Medical marijuana growing at a legal dispensary in CA – photo by C. Goldstein

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey says that he does not agree with the state’s medical marijuana law. But he should feel better knowing that close allies will own three of the first six facilities. New Jersey media sought out the individuals behind the non-profits given a green light to produce medical cannabis. Michael Symons at the Asbury Park Press revealed the deep political ties at half of the approved operators.

David Knowlton who led Christie’s gubernatorial transition team on health care issues chairs one of the non-profits and Webster Todd, the brother of former governor Christine Todd Whitman, is on the Board at another successful applicant.

Here is part of Mr. Todd’s extensive resume:

He served one term in the Assembly more than 40 years ago and was chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board in the late 1970s.

Todd is a trustee for the Compassionate Sciences [Inc.] center. He was in the Assembly from 1968 to 1970 and worked in the White House, State Department and, from 1976 to 1979, the National Transportation Safety Board, where he served as chairman. He founded Princeton Aviation Corp., was president of Frontier Airlines and was senior director of air safety at the Airline Pilots Association.

Todd said he got involved with the medical marijuana effort at the urging of his oldest son, William.

“And I personally happen to believe in compassionate use,” Todd said. read more

Symons uncovered another connection at a different non-profit called Compassionate Care Centers of America Foundation Inc.:

The New Brunswick center’s board includes Kevin Barry, an anesthesiologist who was chosen by Christie as chairman of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey board of trustees, as well as a former federal prosecutor who served as a division chief in the U.S. Attorney’s Office. read more

This particular non-profit partnered with the Meadowlands Hospital Group on their application.

Since being approved these permit holders have heaped public praise on the overly restrictive regulations being proposed by the NJ Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). However, the patients they hope to serve have been working with the Legislature to re-craft the very same regulations.

So far the Christie Administration has delayed the medical marijuana program’s implementation by almost a year. Gov. Christie has been unwilling to compromise on the key issues, continually referring to federal law instead of state statute.

Many qualifying patients say that they will remain in the underground market unless the regulations are changed. That would give  the governor’s close associates little opportunity to try their medical cannabis cultivation skills.

More at freedomisgreen.com:

No Permit for Low Cost Marijuana Supplier in NJ

New Jersey Licenses Six Alternative Treatment Centers for Medical Marijuana

VIDEO: HIV Patient Calls Out NJ Gov Christie on Medical Marijuana

Watch Gov. Christie discuss his views about the compassionate use law on 3/22/2011
Takes place at 23:30 in this video – http://millenniumradionj.com/AskTheGovernor/ask-gov-WKXWFM.html

Chris Goldstein is a respected marijuana reform advocate. As a writer and radio broadcaster he has been covering cannabis news for over a decade. He volunteers with local groups to change prohibition laws including PhillyNORML and The Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey. Chris enjoys old-school hip-hop, vintage airplanes and changing the world. Contact: chris { at } freedomisgreen.com

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