Showdown Over New Jersey MMJ Expansion

New Jersey lawmakers have put medical marijuana patients on a collision course with Republican Gov. Chris Christie.

On Thursday, an Assembly health committee approved a measure that allows registered medical marijuana patients to purchase cannabis and edibles in another state and use it at home. The 10-member committee voted 7-3 in favor of the proposal, with little discussion. The bill now heads to the full Assembly for a vote.

The approval will not sit well with Christie, who has publicly said he will not expand the medical marijuana law because he believes it would represent a step toward legalization.

“It will not happen on my watch, ever,” Christie said in a recent press conference.

But voters – and, now, lawmakers – disagree with Christie. In a recent poll conducted by the New Jersey Star-Ledger, nearly 85 percent of voters supported out-of-state purchases.

This summer, Christie approved changes to New Jersey’s medical marijuana law to allow additional strains to be sold. But so far just three dispensaries have opened in the state, and the businesses do not carry edible marijuana.

The bill’s sponsor, Linda Stender, said state’s medical marijuana program is not functioning properly. Patients, she said, should be able to obtain the type of marijuana that best suits them, even if it is not available in the state.

““In no way will this bill expand any of the requirements for participation,” she said.

Despite the governor’s strong opposition tot he bill, overwhelming public and political support could force him to change his tune.