Lisa Segal wakes up every morning locked in a fetal position, her muscles in spasm from multiple sclerosis.
She's 59 years old, and has tried everything. The only medicine that relaxes those muscles and settles her nausea is marijuana.
So when her supply runs out, she drives an hour from her Gloucester County home to Philadelphia, and walks the streets to buy pot, leaning on her cane. It scares her to death, but it's better than spending her remaining years curled up in bed, in pain…
The medical marijuana movement aims to end this official cruelty, and allow people like Segal to live in dignity. That was the idea, anyway, when the Legislature passed the law last year. It was supposed to be up and running by now.
But thanks to Gov. Chris Christie, this effort has gone terribly off track. So Segal still has to sneak to Philly for her fix, like a criminal.
"The way the rules are written now, I'll have no choice but to continue doing what I'm doing," she says.
The rules drafted by the Christie administration amount to bureaucratic sabotage. And the political and legal fights they have sparked mean the delay is certain to continue for months.
One rule places a limit on potency, so the legal pot can't be as strong as the varieties Segal can find on the street. Home delivery was allowed at first, and then banned, for reasons the Department of Health will not explain.
If a doctor wants to prescribe pot, he needs to warn patients every three months that some experts believe this treatment is ineffective, and that marijuana can be addictive.
Each distribution center can carry only three strains of pot, and hold no excess inventory. They can't make pot cookies or brownies, even for patients with cancer or AIDS who have lung problems.
You get the idea. Sure, the law is on the books. But it was signed by former Gov. Jon Corzine, and Christie never liked it. So he is trying to strangle this baby in its crib by drafting one unworkable rule after another. Call it bureaucratic sabotage.
Lisa Segal would make for a pretty compelling Gary Johnson 2012 primary campaign commercial, don't you think?