There was an interesting encounter Saturday between some medical marijuana advocates and Seaside Heights police officers. Michelle Burns has multiple sclerosis and is a card carrying medical marijuana patient. Sitting on a bench at the Seaside Heights boardwalk she lit one up. Along came the police. What was great about this encounter is it was completely civil and should serve as a textbook for both civilians and law enforcement on how to deal with one another.

The issue was the medical marijuana advocates pointed out that under the state law marijuana could be smoked virtually anywhere regular cigarettes could be smoked. They say it comes under the provisions set forth in the Smoke Free Air Act. Police said it was the township's understanding that the boardwalk falls inside the exclusion of 'recreation center'. It ended respectfully and amicably, and the advocates then took the matter to the borough council meeting on Wednesday. Seaside Heights mayor Anthony Vaz says it will be considered.

I did a little looking and came up with the following section of an FAQs on the government's site on medical marijuana:

Where will a qualifying patient be able to smoke medical marijuana?

The Department notes that smoking medicinal marijuana falls within the definition of "smoking" as set forth in the Smoke Free Air Act at N.J.S.A. 26:3D-57, and is therefore subject to the provisions of the Smoke Free Air Act.

Patients may not,
• Operate, navigate, or be in control of any vehicle, aircraft, railroad train, or stationary heavy equipment vessel while under the influence of marijuana.
Patients may not smoke medicinal marijuana,
• On a school bus or public form of transportation.
• In a private vehicle unless the vehicle is not in operation.
• On any school grounds, in any correctional facility, at any public park or beach, at any recreation center.
• Any area pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:33-13.

This really seems to come down to whether the boardwalk itself can be considered a 'recreation center'. Also I do find it odd that if medical marijuana is supposed to be allowed wherever cigarette smoking is allowed, why is it banned "at any public park or beach"? There are still public parks and beaches that allow cigarette smoking.

Now consider if you're walking on the boardwalk with your impressionable 8 year old. Do families want to deal with having their children see someone smoking weed right in front of them? I understand it can make them uncomfortable. A parent might not be okay with answering their kid's questions. But the truth is children see cigarette smoking on the boardwalk all the time, and cigarette smoking kills 440,000 Americans every year. I think medical marijuana patients ought to be allowed to smoke it on the boardwalk. If children ask, a parent can simply explain that not all medicine comes in a bottle of pills.

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