New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is a major opponent of marijuana legalization, so much that he delayed reforms to make medical marijuana more available. Christie also attacks marijuana advocates, calling them “crazy liberals” who want to “poison our children.” As Christie’s departure is quickly approaching though, marijuana advocates and enthusiasts are preparing for full legalization. Currently, medical marijuana is legal in the state, and has been since 2010 under the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, which offers medical marijuana to patients with listed conditions. Even though the state legalized medical marijuana in 2010, the registry didn’t open until 2012 due to Christie’s persistent opposition to the drug.
By the end of 2016, New Jersey had roughly 12,500 medical marijuana patients registered, which is a far lower number than most other medical marijuana states. This low participation rate is likely caused by the unusually strict rules and regulations, as New Jersey holds one of smaller lists of qualifying conditions. Additionally, New Jersey patients must be reassessed every 90 days, while doctors hoping to prescribe medical marijuana must register and attend a course. Once patients meet these requirements, they are able to purchase some of the most expensive marijuana in the United States, making the medical marijuana program unavailable for many patients.