New Jersey first passed a medical marijuana law back in 2010, but only recently has legal cannabis distribution begun to take root in the Garden State after a series of long delays, mostly attributable to willful obstruction from Governor Chris Christie, who once responded to a question about children who need medical marijuana to treat serious illnesses by bellowing: “I am not going to allow New Jersey to become a California or a Colorado where someone can fake a headache and get a bag of pot on every corner. So I’m very concerned, if we go down this slope of allowing minors to use this, where it ends.”
Christie later went so far as to decry the terrible fate of Colorado, as if the Rocky Mountain State descended into some kind of dystopian hellscape shortly after legalizing marijuana for all adults.
"See if you want to live in a major city in Colorado, where there's headshops popping up on every corner and people flying into your airport just to come and get high," He said on his monthly Ask the Governor radio show. "To me, it's just not the quality of life we want to have here in the state of New Jersey and there's no tax revenue that's worth that."
But if Christie's concern is that people might “fake a headache,” and then use pot for fun, where does that leave all the people who live with debilitating pain every day? In New Jersey, at least a few of them are finally finding some relief. At least according to Suzanne Miller, director of behavioral medicine at Philadelphia's Fox Chase Cancer Center and a member of the board of trustees for the Compassionate Care Foundation (CCF), a state-licensed medical marijuana retailer in Egg Harbor Township, NJ.
Miller has been using a test known as the Wong-Baker FACES Pain Rating Scale to measure improvement in pain management among patients who use legal medical cannabis in NJ. Which means each time patients visit CCF, they choose a picture of a face (smiling, crying, neutral, etc.) that best represents their current pain level. The cards are then collected, and analyzed over time to determine changes.
So far, Miller says there's been “absolutely dramatic” improvement for many patients, results she plans to publish later this year. Which just might end up giving Chris Christie a headache.