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NJ: Rutgers Declines Growing Medical Marijuana To Not Risk Federal Funding

July 25, 2010 / 23 July 2010 / Susan Livio

Dave Warden, a bud tender at Private Organic Therapy (P.O.T.), a non-profit co-operative medical marijuana dispensary, displays various types of marijuana available to patients on October 19, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.

TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie’s strategy to implement New Jersey’s controversial medical marijuana law was dealt a setback Friday when Rutgers University said it will not become the state’s sole grower of the drug.

Christie was counting on Rutgers to grow the pot and allow a number of teaching hospitals to sell it, as a counter-proposal to the law that passed just before he became governor in January.

The original law’s sponsors, who had been receptive to the governor’s idea, yesterday said Christie should embrace their legislation that allows a minimum of six nonprofits to provide and distribute the drug.

“Now, the state should turn its attention to implementing my original plan, which was well thought-out and responsible, allowing the private sector to be involved,’’ said Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union).

Rutgers Friday declined to grow and research medical marijuana because the university does not want to risk more than $500 million in federal funding because of marijuana’s illegal status.

Robert Goodman, dean of the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, said almost every aspect of the school’s business — from providing financial aid, to obtaining research grants, to seeking immigration visas for visiting professors and other guests — is tied up in federal funding.

Higher education is infinitely tied to the federal government, operating under the presumption we are not violating federal law,” Goodman said.
A statement released by Rutgers yesterday noted that “in federal fiscal year 2009 alone, the university received more than $290 million in federal grants and contracts for research and an additional $262 million in grants, loans, and work study funding for Rutgers students. We cannot put those programs in jeopardy.”

John Munson/The Star-LedgerTy Hull, owner/caregiver at Mahooka medical marijuana dispensary in Denver, shows off a demonstration marijuana plant.
Possession, sale and use of marijuana remains a federal offense. In the 14 states that legalized marijuana for medical purposes, possession laws are suspended for patients who are registered by the state, and who do not consume the drug in public.

Christie’s spokesman Michael Drewniak declined to say how the administration will proceed.

“It now appears that we have one less option available to us. But as we’ve said all along, we’ve been considering other options beyond the Rutgers plan, and we will continue working diligently to implement a high-quality and secure program for growing and distributing medical-use marijuana,’’ Drewniak said.

Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer), who also sponsored the medical marijuana bill, said he was disappointed Rutgers took such a “narrow-minded view” and gave up a pioneering opportunity.

“Rutgers chickened out,” Gusciora said.

The University of Mississippi is the only higher education institution that has the DEA’s approval to perform marijuana research. New Jersey’s partnership with Rutgers proposed taking a giant step further, by producing the drug for sale to patients, DEA spokesman and Special Agent Michael Sanders said.

“Nobody’s ever tried this,’’ Sanders said in an interview earlier in the week. “But anything’s possible in politics and government. Sounds like it would maybe work — using a very controlled method of dispensing it rather than allowing a vendor come in.’’

The Bush administration two years ago denied a request by a professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst to become another research site.


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One Comment leave one →
  1. July 26, 2010 3:07 pm

    According to one report, it would take 800 joints to kill a person—but the cause of death would be carbon monoxide poisoning.

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