Last week the Christie administration created new rules for dispensing medical marijuana in New Jersey. Instead of allowing patients who desire to alleviate pain and other ailments relatively easy access to marijuana as the law requires, the Christie administration has reduced the number of authorized dispensaries, will require patients to be certified by a state review panel, and physicians must document that other pain remedies have been ineffective after treating a patient for at least a year. In addition, a patient must suffer from one of nine diseases to be eligible to obtain medical marijuana, among other restrictions.
If these rules stand, the Christie administration will have failed a critical litmus test. A true conservative, who is supposed to be a proponent of limited government and individual liberty, would defend unequivocally the doctor-patient relationship, which is supposed to be sacrosanct, just like the individual-clergy relationship. But in our statist society, nothing is sacrosanct except big government and the trampling of individual rights.
Free individuals should not need government permission to treat an illness with a plant. A free individual should be able to decide the proper course of treatment for any medical condition.
The Christie administration is turning its back on individuals, some of whom I first met on the campaign trail during the 1997 gubernatorial campaign. They were crying out for compassion, a change in the law that would not brand them as criminals, because they wanted to use one of nature's gifts, a plant, to alleviate their pain from MS and other conditions.
As an unabashed proponent of individual liberty I supported a change in the law in 1997 to allow New Jerseyans to use medical marijuana. My opponents, Governor Whitman and Mayor/Senator McGreevey, opposed the legalization of medical marijuana, revealing that statism is embraced by the vast majority of politicians from both major parties. Is it any wonder that our liberties have been systematically destroyed for more than a 100 years?
The Christie administration should embrace the wise words of John Stuart Mill and other champions of a free society and demonstrate he is indeed a defender of liberty.
‘‘The only part of the conduct of any one, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.
"The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant."
The Christie administration has an opportunity to return basic freedoms to New Jerseyans. Instead, the governor apparently thinks flexing his "drug warrior" muscles may endear him to the statists in the GOP, whose support he would need if he has a desire for higher political office.
Murray Sabrin is professor of finance at Ramapo College. He was the Libertarian Party nominee for governor in 1997 and a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2000 and 2008. Check www.MurraySabrin.com for more of his writings.