A measure proposed by New Jersey Assemblywoman Linda Stender calls for allowing residents enrolled in the state's medical marijuana program to purchase medical marijuana out of state.
But Gov. Chris Christie said Monday he will not expand the program. "Here's what the advocates want: They want legalization of marijuana in New Jersey. It will not happen on my watch, ever," he said. "I am done expanding the medical marijuana program under any circumstances.
"And the program works fine for people who are truly ill, and I would tell you again, that there's no outpouring of people signing up for this program," he said.
According to Kenneth Wolski, executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey, there's a shortage of supply.
"It's very unfortunate the governor is continuing to obstruct this program. The medical marijuana program in New Jersey is a failure and a disgrace right now. It's been four years since this bill passed into law," Wolski said. "The department of health has only managed to get marijuana out to a couple of hundred patients in the entire state."
While 50 percent of voters do favor legalization, said Wolski, the goal of Stender's bill is simply a medical marijuana program that works.
"Actually, it's not expanding the program," said Stender, D-Union. "What it does is provide reciprocity for people who are in the program and accessing the medical marijuana from out of state."
"This is not back door to legalizing marijuana. This is making sure sick people, children who could die at any moment from their condition could have access to the medicine that the law already provides," she added.
David Evans, executive director of the Drug Free Schools Coalition, agrees with the governor that expansion of the program would be a step toward legalization.
"Unfortunately, Gov. Christie got stuck with this law, it was passed before he became governor," Evans said. "They come back every year and try to get it expanded. Their ultimate goal is to have recreational use of marijuana.
"Medical marijuana is just a cruel hoax used by people who want to legalize marijuana," he said.
Dispensaries are open in Montclair and Egg Harbor. The third of a planned six medical marijuana dispensaries is set to open in Woodbridge on Wednesday.