In Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate on CNN, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie tussled with Kentucky Senator Rand Paul about marijuana laws in general and access to medical cannabis in particular. Paul argued that if Chris Christie’s position is that all federal laws need to be enforced, that means arresting parents who supply state-legal medical marijuana to their suffering children. Christie bristled at the notion, pointing out that his administration has implemented a medical marijuana law in New Jersey.
What was left unsaid at the debate, however, is that the Garden State’s medical cannabis law is widely viewed by advocates as one of the worst in the nation. There are only a handful of dispensaries to serve the state’s population of nearly 9 million, and it is very difficult to qualify for legal access.
But on Thursday, CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta, who has become an outspoken advocate for medical cannabis, set the record straight.
“I had a lot of reactions to [Christie’s comments]. We’ve been reporting on this issue for some time,” Gupta said, referring to a series of medical marijuana documentaries he’s done for the network, including one featuring a family that had to move from New Jersey to Colorado so that their daughter could get access to cannabis products.
“Governor Christie has been against marijuana, both medicinal and recreational for some time. More recently did he allow certain strains of medical marijuana in the state of New Jersey,” Gupta said.
But those minor reforms are “not adequate,” for families like the one he profiled on CNN, Gupta said.
“The situation that Dr. Paul was talking about, where you have families who are obtaining this for their children — it works for them when nothing else has worked. They’ve tried everything that mainstream medicine has to offer — those things have not worked. They try [marijuana], and it’s a benefit, but now they can’t leave the state of Colorado,” Gupta said.
“If they do, they could potentially be charged with a crime. So [Paul] is right about that. That is definitely happening.”
Check out the video of Gupta’s fact-checking here.
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