Concerned father, kicked out of Christie town hall meeting, calls on governor to change medical marijuana law
By Mark Bonamo | June 25th, 2014 - 3:21pm
| More

HADDON HEIGHTS - In his everyday life, Ricardo Rivera served his country in the U.S. Army and now serves his community as a surgical technician in a nearby Camden County hospital. But Rivera, 32, was compelled to come to Gov. Chris Christie's 122nd town hall meeting at Atlantic Avenue Elementary School in Haddon Heights on Wednesday for an elementary reason - to serve his 7-year-old daughter, who has had difficulty getting the medical marijuana she needs to fight the effects of the rare form of epilepsy she suffers from.

Fired up with frustration on his daughter Tatyana's behalf, Rivera stood up before more than 200 people in the school's packed gymnasium and called Christie out.

"Governor Christie, my daughter has been waiting for the [medical marijuana] program [to help her] for a year and a half. My daughter is withering away!" exclaimed Rivera, thrusting his finger at Christie moments before a cohort of state troopers and local police officers politely escorted Rivera out the gym door. "It's not right!" 

Christie, silent, offered no comment. 

In an interview with outside in the school parking lot, Rivera explained his problem with the state's medical marijuana law, also known as the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, signed into law by former Jon Corzine in January 2010 and enacted under the Christie administration in October 2010, as well as with his experiences at town hall meetings. 

"The problem is that my daughter has Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (LGS), which is probably a severe form of epilepsy, probably the most catastrophic form of epilepsy that you can have. She been recorded as having more than 300 seizures over a 24-hour period. She's completely developmentally delayed. I had just gotten my card about two weeks ago to receive the medical marijuana for my daughter, but the restrictions have been crazy," Rivera said. "You have to be approved by three doctors. The first problem was getting three doctors. I mean, I couldn't even find one."

Rivera noted that he received assistance from the Face of Cannabis community project organization, a group that is seeking to raise awareness about what it believes are the benefits of the use of medical marijuana for children, to help finding enough doctors for approval.

"When she was approved, it look about another six months [visiting other doctors] and spending about $3000 in cash just to get everything done legally instead of out in the street," Rivera added. "Let me tell you something - if my daughter was to lose me, my daughter would end up dying. That's my fear. That's why I was here today, to tell [Governor Christie] that these regulations are absurd. He needs to improve the medical marijuana program. He absolutely does. It's crazy.

"I've been to seven [town hall] meetings. I've sat in the front, nicely dressed, looking totally legit," Rivera said before he left the scene. "[Governor Christie] just looks at me, then calls on someone else. Come on, seven times. I've been very patient. Today, I just told him how I felt."

Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: September 30th

Dems fail to pry sufficient number from abstemious GOP caucus to pass debt report bill TRENTON - The Assembly this afternoon could not summon the necessary votes to override Gov. Chris Christie's veto of A961, as Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21) prevented Democrats - some of them outraged...


Legislation needed for publicly financed gubernatorial elections

By JEFF BRINDLE It is critical that the Legislature soon enact a pending bill that would ensure the state’s Gubernatorial Public Financing Program is available in the event of a special election for governor.  Not only is there no current legal... Read More >


In tribute to John Sheridan, a good and great man     I first learned late last night from television news that John P. Sheridan, Jr. and his wife, Joyce had... more »
(9-24-14) The Founding Fathers and the Militarization of the Police - No matter what the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri decides, the debate over the militarization of... more »
(Trenton, NJ) --  On September 23, 2015 I shall dig this up and eat whatever crow I've got coming, but in the meantime only a listicle... more »
 The following letter was sent today to Republican state legislators, county chairs, state committee members, and New Hampshire... more »

Quote of the Day

quote of the day

"When you're asked to cast a vote on a bill and it seems innocuous, and it's got a hidden land mine that perhaps only an expert would see, it would sort of behoove those experts to tell us in advance rather than make us look, shall we say, a little bit indecisive later on." - Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R-25).



Which of these "Mount Rushmore of Corruption" states deserves the centerpiece?:


Visit the page for links to the best collection of information on New Jersey state government.


  • Polls
  • The best blogs
  • Columnists
  • State election results
  • Assembly election results
  • Local party websites
  • And more.