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New Jersey Medical Marijuana Bill Approved by Committee


Despite the objections of some youth prevention advocates, a New Jersey Senate committee approved legislation calling for legalizing the medical use of marijuana, the New Jersey Star-Ledger reported Dec. 16.

The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee approved the legislation after hearing testimony from chronically ill individuals who advocated for the use of marijuana to ease their suffering. “There is too much pain, too much hurt, and too much suffering, and we can do something about it,” said Bill Baroni, a state senator who voted in favor of the legislation.

Calling marijuana an “illegal miracle,” Charles Kwiatkowski, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, helped sway state legislators. “It's not right there are 13 states I could live in, in less pain,” Kwiatkowski said.

Labeled the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, the legislation would apply to patients suffering from a debilitating disease or chronic illnesses that causes “wasting syndrome, severe or chronic pain, seizures and severe and persistent muscle spasms.”

Patients would need to get a doctor's recommendation and signoff from the state Department of Health and Senior Services to participate in the program and legally possess up to six plants and one ounce of marijuana. The legislation also provides for the creation of “compassion centers” that would grow and distribute marijuana to patients.

Citing concern about the effect legalized marijuana would have on children and young people, Joyce Nalepka, president of Drug Free Kids: America's Challenge, urged New Jersey legislators to vote against the legislation. “Can it be that declaring — by popular legislative opinion — a dangerous drug to be medicine increases use by making it more acceptable?” Nalepka asked the committee.

The bill (S119) passed by a 6-1 vote with two abstentions, and awaits a full vote in the 40-member state Senate.

1 Response to this article

  1. Avatar of Sean
    Sean / April 7, 2013 at 9:18 am

    Knock medical marijuana all you want–it is no mistake or random coincidence that people with ALS are living years and years beyond what they are supposed to by using marijuana as treatment. One such lady has lived for 20-something years (where ALS’s life expectancy is 2-5 years). Please google “marijuana ALS” and see that this is no joke.

    In my opinion, there are two huge hurdles to prepare for with medical marijuana. First, keeping it out of the hands of kids by regulating and educating them that this is medicine– not fun and games. Second, it is absolutely necessary to conduct clinical trials and get some empirical evidence to determine the efficacy of medical marijuana’s use for ALS, and also look at Alzheimer’s treatment and cannabis’ anti-tumor properties. Pro-pot or not–if marijuana could cure or effectively treat cancer, it would be a crime to continue to deny people of this–unless you are a CEO of a big pharmaceutical company answering to shareholders (wrong on so many levels).

    Bottom line: we should cautiously move forward with medical pot, with a responsibility to properly educate the youth, keep it away from youth, and conduct trials to get some hard data.

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