MIDDLETOWN — A former Fair Haven man will fight marijuana possession charges, saying he is a California resident who has a prescription for medical marijuana to relieve post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. Eric G. Hafner, 20, was scheduled to be in Municipal Court Monday morning, but the case was postponed until March 27. Hafner faces criminal drug charges stemming from a November traffic stop when the car in which he was a passenger was pulled over on Locust Avenue because a headlight was out. A township police officer detected the smell of marijuana from inside the vehicle and found the man in possession of marijuana and a pipe commonly used to smoke the drug, police said. Hafner was joined outside Municipal Court Monday morning by seven sign-toting medical marijuana advocates in a show of support before his scheduled appointment with the judge. Hafner, a resident of Fair Haven when he was arrested in November, but now living in North Hollywood, Ca. since late January, claims he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to a series of events he would not discuss that occurred when he was 16 years old. He says he uses marijuana to ease his symptoms. Hafner says he currently carries a letter from a California-based doctor recommending and approving Hafner’s use of marijuana for medicinal purposes to treat PTSD. But he says because medical marijuana laws are in limbo in New Jersey, he could not secure an OK from a doctor here before he was found in possession of a small amount of marijuana during the November motor vehicle stop. “New Jersey is screwing up. This isn’t me doing anything wrong,” Hafner said Monday before heading into the courtroom. “I don’t blame the police for this. If you’re a police officer, your job is to enforce the law.
But in this case the law is flawed and we need to fix it,” Hafner said. “This is not going to be in the legal realm forever.” Hafner’s scheduled case Monday before Municipal Court Judge Richard Thompson was postponed after the prosecutor asked for a delay because legal documents explaining the medical marijuana claims had not been exchanged between him and Hafner. In 2010, Gov. Christie signed legislation that would allow six nonprofit groups to grow and dispense medical marijuana in six regions of the state. Only one group in northern New Jersey has won local approvals while the rest struggle to find receptive communities. Breakwater Alternative Treatment Center, which is expected to serve Monmouth and Ocean counties, has approached several towns at the Jersey Shore but none have been receptive to hosting a growing facility. Three towns – Upper Freehold and Howell in Monmouth County and Plumsted in Ocean County – adopted ordinances to prohibit the approval of land use applications that involve a substance considered illegal under federal law. BATC officials sent a letter of injury to Jackson officials in January but never got a response. The Township Committee, however, opted not to close the door at its Feb. 28 meeting when presented with a proposed ordinance that would outlaw a pot farm within its boundaries. Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth, introduced a bill Jan. 30 that would not allow municipalities to skirt the state law that allows growing facilities and dispensaries from sprouting in their towns, but that measure has yet to be considered by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. PTSD is not listed as one of the eight qualifying illnesses approved for medical marijuana use by the state Department of Health and Senior Services. The administrative regulations governing the program dictate patients must wait two years to petition for the inclusion of additional illnesses. Other than California, New Mexico and Delaware allow PTSD patients to obtain medical marijuana.
via : Asbury Park Press
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