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Make medical marijuana available

Gov. Christie has not made a good enough case to delay implementation of the new law that will allow seriously ill patients in New Jersey to obtain medical marijuana. He should stop being a roadblock.

Christie says another year is needed to write regulations. He's just stalling. The law goes into effect in July, but it gives state officials until October to write the rules. That's sufficient time.

Christie had almost convinced State Sen. Nicholas P. Scutari (D., Linden), a prime sponsor of the law, to delay it. Fortunately, Scutari has recovered and is now urging the governor to "make a good-faith effort" to implement it.

There were years of debate on how to proceed with such a law before it was finally passed last year and signed in January by Gov. Jon S. Corzine.

Many chronically ill people have been waiting for years to legally obtain marijuana as part of their treatment. Christie hasn't provided a valid reason to make them suffer for yet another year.

There are steps the state should take immediately, including compilation of a patient registry. More time-consuming will be the establishment of state-approved dispensaries authorized to distribute medical marijuana.

New Jersey's new law makes it only the 14th state to legalize medical marijuana. But legislators did a good job of studying the mistakes made elsewhere and have written one of the strictest laws of its type in the country.

Unlike California, where liberal rules allowed the medical marijuana industry to explode into a booming pot business, the New Jersey law restricts access to patients with "debilitating medical conditions," including chronic pain, and terminal illnesses such as cancer and AIDS.

A bill in Pennsylvania should follow New Jersey's lead.