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PHOTO: Lefty Grimes/Sativa Cross
By now, many of you have already seen the footage of Paula Joana confronting New Jersey Governor Chris Christie yesterday at a town hall meeting in Fairfield.
If you haven’t seen it already, here it is. Have some tissues handy before pressing play:
Video credit: Lefty Grimes/Sativa Cross
I wanted to write about this yesterday when it happened, but after living in New Jersey and listening to countless patients’ testimonies and watching these New Jersey families lose loved ones while waiting for medical cannabis access, it’s very emotionally difficult for me to write about this topic or even watch the coverage – which makes it all the more amazing to witness Paula Joana’s advocacy after a tragic loss I cannot begin to imagine.
What patients and their families have been through in New Jersey is heartbreaking and absolutely unacceptable. Governor Christie has continued to stall the state’s medicinal marijuana program, and despite his words in the video above, I and many other New Jersey activists believe Christie bears far more responsibility for the program’s failure than he is willing to admit.
While news sources are reporting that yesterday’s discussion indicates progress and an evolution of Christie’s position, New Jersey patients have already heard empty promises too many times to have any kind of confidence that real change will happen soon. Without full legalization of cannabis in the garden state – which Christie again specifically said he refused to consider yesterday – many activists believe the state’s medical program will remain dysfunctional. But at least the Governor has finally agreed to give the Joana family the time and attention they so greatly deserve.
Paula Joana is one of my personal heroes. Her bravery and continued involvement in reform after the death of her daughter Sabina Rose exemplifies the true meaning of activism, and I am both indescribably grateful for and incredibly proud of her strength, courage, and determination.