(TRENTON) — Deputy Majority Leader Reed Gusciora (D-Princeton) expressed disappointment that Rutgers University “took a pass” on Governor Chris Christie’s plan to be included as a grower and research facility under the state’s medicinal marijuana law. The news was announced on the heels of growing public support for the plan by the original sponsor, Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, and the Governor.
“I am disappointed that Rutgers University has stopped short, especially when the school could have been on the cutting edge of the issue,” said Gusciora. “Perhaps if they used Seton Hall lawyers they would have reached a more favorable result.”
Many critics cited the struggles of University of Massachusetts Amherst that tried to become a medical marijuana grower, but was ultimately denied by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Gusciora pointed to two important differences between the UMass scenario and the one occurring with Rutgers:
“UMass requested a growers bid from the DEA in a state that has not legalized medical marijuana to this day. In addition, the waiver was requested in 2002 under the Bush Administration. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has already stated the feds will not interfere with dispensaries that operate in states that have legalized marijuana for medicinal uses. Its apples and oranges we’re talking about.”
Legislation was passed allowing an October 1st extension to begin implementation of the medical marijuana law. Gusciora noted that this extension created ample time to consider the Governor’s proposal, which included Rutgers as the state’s grower and teaching hospitals as potential dispensaries. Gusciora noted that Rutgers has nine extension farms in the state, has a food innovation center, a pharmaceutical school, a business school, and could have garnered patent rights for any new strains of the plant that were developed.
“In the end, this is a slap in the face of the Governor who has been advocating for the state’s university in finding innovative ways for the institution to advance academically,” concluded Gusciora. “I would have preferred Rutgers announcing they will work with our state’s federal delegation and Governor to find a way to solve any legal hurdles instead of just walking away from this opportunity.”