N.J. OKs medical marijuana bill

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2008 at 1:39 pm

Associated Press


New Jersey moved closer to allowing chronically ill patients to smoke marijuana to relieve symptoms of pain and nausea by advancing a medical marijuana bill Monday.

The bill was approved 6-1 by the Senate Health Committee following a lengthy and sometimes passionate hearing that attracted scores of supporters and detractors including a doctor, multiple sclerosis patients, and a marijuana grower from Canada.

New Jersey would become the 14th state with a medical marijuana law on its books.

Those who favor the bill, including its Senate sponsor, Sen. Nicholas Scutari of Linden, said the “Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act” would allow a “new route of treatment” for patients with AIDS, cancer, MS, and other serious illnesses for whom other drugs fail.

“Society is able to distinguish between the lawful use of a substance” and recreational use or drug abuse,” said Scutari, a Democrat.

The measure allows chronically ill patients to petition Human Services to allow them to use marijuana medicinally. Physician certification of their condition would be required.

If approved, the patient would be issued an identification card allowing them to grow six marijuana plants or access the drug at an alternative medicine center without fear of being arrested or prosecuted.

Responding to critics who say medicinal marijuana amounts to tacit approval of an illegal drug, Scutari said safeguards have been built in to the proposal.

Patients would not be able to smoke and drive, for example, and would be barred from smoking in public places. They’d be permitted to possess only a small amount of the drug, he said.

“This is not legalizing marijuana for recreational use,” he said.

Opponents argued that allowing patients to smoke marijuana is akin to approving drug use.

They said the pill Marinol, made from a synthetic form of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, has FDA approval and is as effective as smoking the drug.

David Evans, executive director of the national Drug Free Schools Coalition, cited the lack of scientific studies on marijuana use.

“You have to make sure it is safe,” he said. “There are no proper studies about dose, how many times do you take it. Once this bill is approved, you can smoke your head off all day long.”

Patients, however, disagreed.

They said they didn’t get high, but were able to function with the drug. Marinol did not work as well, if at all, they said.

Sen. Bill Baroni, a Hamilton Township Republican who voted for the bill, said he spent the weekend reading literature on both sides of the argument.

“The people who are asking us to do this today, these are people who can’t play piggyback with their 3-year-old. These are people who get up every day and battle HIV/AIDS. They are people who wonder if their chemotherapy is going to work,” said Baroni. “I can’t look at those folks and let them be perhaps the only ones who don’t have the ability to have less pain.”

A hearing two years ago brought celebrity Montel Williams to the New Jersey Statehouse. A longtime multiple sclerosis sufferer, Williams said he uses marijuana regularly.

The bill next heads to the full Senate for possible consideration. The Assembly held an informational hearing on the proposal last year, but has not scheduled it for a hearing. Similar proposals did not advance during the prior legislative session.

Most of the other states that began allowing medical marijuana have done so through ballot referendums. In New Jersey, the law must be changed by the Legislature.

States where medical marijuana is legal are: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.


  1. Buy it at Rite Aid and smoke it at Starbucks!

    I can just see the gift cards, I mean Prescription form, from the Dr.’s office.
    “Use 3x day or AS NEEDED”

    Never mind talking on the cell phone while you drive up Ridgewood Ave. (trying to avoid all the high people in the crosswalks).
    I wonder if you can the correct dose at the drive-up window at Walgreens?
    Cough, cough, I’m going to the Dr’s honey. Where’s our prescription card.
    Remember it only covers Generic drugs.
    Nothing that begins with Jamaican or Mexico, it has to home grown, I mean generic.

  2. Far out, man

  3. It is the same as using pain killers. Why shouldn’t sick people have this? It would be a controlled drug like any other.

    It is the drinkers that we need to watch out for – no Rx needed. People are self-medicating with etoh.

  4. Yea 4:27, ’cause we’re doing such a good job about reducing painkiller abuse…

  5. Anonymous said…
    It is the same as using pain killers. Why shouldn’t sick people have this? It would be a controlled drug like any other.

    It is the drinkers that we need to watch out for – no Rx needed. People are self-medicating with etoh.

    4:27 PM

    I tend to agree. Anyone who has witnessed a loved one suffering with the pain of cancer knows why this is a positive turn of events.

  6. I can tell by the responses that, everyone is on a guilt trip about this subject.

    To those who have pain, I hope the stuff helps.
    To those of you who don’t have pain, or maybe you have pain and just don’t know it, I hope its working.

    Light up people, I mean Lighten up people, this is a free speech county the Feds won’t come a knocken.

  7. Anonymous said…
    Far out, man

    9:35 AM

    Cool! I didn’t know Cheech Marin lived in Ridgewood!! 🙂

  8. Where do I sign up?

  9. It’s a scam and a farce (but we all know that – regardless of our position on the proposal).
    There are many other ways to reduce pain with less side effects.

    If this drug (marijuana) was developed today and presented as a new pain killer, the same group of “pro-medical marijuana” folks currently supporting it would be up in arms over its significant negative side effects in relation to the minimal positive primary effect.

    Oh, but that’s really the point isn’t it… the secondary effect (getting high) is really the primary goal of the bill… purposly obfuscated by a weak “pain killing” effect.

    Another indication that NJ is going down the tubes.

  10. how much tax will be on this one.

  11. Member the old 4 or 5 pack of Luckys or Chesterfields?

    NOW you can get a prescription for “Smoke one a day for 5 days”

  12. Smoke ’em if ya got ’em

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