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Memo To New Jersey Politicians: No More Delays — It’s Time To Implement The State’s Medical Marijuana Law!

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 22, 2010

    This past January, after years of debate, outgoing Democrat Governor Jon Corzine signed legislation making New Jersey the fourteenth state in the nation to allow for the state-authorized use of medical cannabis by qualified patients. The measure, known as The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, authorizes patients with a physician’s recommendation to possess and obtain medical cannabis from state-authorized “alternative treatment centers” (aka dispensaries). As signed, the measure was to take effect next month.

    But that won’t happen if Republican Gov. Chris Christie has his way. Christie is seeking, and legislation has been introduced, to delay implementation of New Jersey’s long-awaited medical cannabis law by at least 90 days. Gov. Christie has also called on legislators to amend the law — which, as written, is already the most restrictive in the nation — so that patients would only be eligible to obtain medical cannabis in state hospitals. The Governor has also proposed limiting the cultivation of marijuana so that it could only legally be grown at Rutgers University. NORML opposes these amendments, which if enacted, would make New Jersey’s law totally unworkable for patients.

    How so? Consider this: For over nine years the University of Massachusetts has sought — unsuccessfully — to cultivate marijuana for medical research purposes. The University even went so far as to file a legal challenge with the DEA — which it won — to gain permission to grow pot. Yet in 2009 the DEA’s acting director overruled the determination of the agency’s own administrative law judge in order to prohibit UMass from growing even a single marijuana plant. It is unlikely that a similar plan at Rutgers University would be met with any greater success.

    Further, it is burdensome and unnecessary to limit patients use of medical marijuana solely to hospitals. As stated in 1988 by the United State’s Drug Enforcement Administration’s own administrative law judge, “Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.” The plant’s compounds are virtually non-toxic to healthy cells and organs, do not depress the central nervous system, and are incapable of causing a fatal overdose.

    In fact, according to a 2008 study published by the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association, patients who used cannabis-based medicines reported virtually no “serious adverse effects” from the drug over a 30-year period. By contrast, even small doses of the over-the counter drug Tylenol (acetaminophen) has been conclusively shown to cause liver damage and death. It is arbitrary and unnecessary for the Governor to propose impose restrictions regarding the use of medical marijuana that are more stringent than the regulations already in place governing the distribution and use of other doctor recommended medications.

    Seriously ill patients in New Jersey have waited long enough for legislative relief. It is time to implement the will of the people and the will of lawmakers.

    If you reside in the Garden State, please consider visiting NORML’s ‘Take Action’ page here to contact your state lawmakers and urge them to move expeditiously in favor of implementing medicl marijuana law reform in New Jersey.

    For more information please visit NORML NJ or the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey.

    30 Responses to “Memo To New Jersey Politicians: No More Delays — It’s Time To Implement The State’s Medical Marijuana Law!”

    1. The Oracle says:

      Why can’t a non-DEA administrative judge cut through this bullshit that prevented UMass? I’d like NORML to explain this, please.

      [Paul Armentano responds: The administrative law judge’s decision is non-binding so the agency may either ultimately accept or reject it. This issue was challenged in the courts after the DEA rejected the 1988 administrative law ruling on rescheduling. The Court of Appeals affirmed that the decision is non-binding.]

    2. Michael says:

      I am a New Jersey resident and I am welcoming the 90 day suspension, and let me explain.

      For the past few years, my mother has been living with chronic knee pain and it has gotten progressively worse. It began about 3-4 years ago, and every year she has undergone various treatments to stop or halt her knee damage, some to moderate success, but nothing really worked. For the past year an a half she’s been using painkillers (Vicodin, Percocet, Tramadol, etc.) daily. I told her about medicinal cannabis after doing research about it myself. About a month ago she asked her doctor about the medicinal marijuana which would have gone into effect this July. Her doctor said despite her having staggering knee pain, she could not be prescribed as the NJ laws are ridiculously restrictive (only AIDs/HIV and cancer patients may receive it). This year, the pain/functionality has really caught up to her. In fact, she is scheduled for a total knee replacement in September. Still, despite this, her doctor cannot prescribe it to her.

      Hopefully within the extension date the state will realize that marijuana can be used to safely suppress pain so people with chronic pain can get it.

    3. E says:

      We need a march on Washington DC. I realize that NORML is not responsible for making cannabis legal, but it is time to organize even more and call for a march from the top down. Any takers?

    4. Pain-fully Stressed says:

      what about new york . im getting really sick of this . alls i hear is about the “other” states. well, i want to hear about new york . atleast they can get thier weed or have it approved , we havent gotten any of that yet . it should be new yorks turn now !

    5. Ga Sunshine says:

      Governor Christie just wrote his political obituary. My husband liked him until he realized he does not have CORE REPUBLICAN PRINCIPLES. I thought republican/conservatives wanted less government not more. What the hell is going on?

    6. Anonymous says:

      Where on earth can I get some weed that would make me think for one minute that legalizing marijuana for ANY purpose is a CORE REPUBLICAN PRINCIPLE. Republicans/Conservatives are for less goverment when and only when it suits them and their agenda. Not that the Democrats have been any better recently, at least not the last 20 years. I don’t mean to insult anybody, and I realize a lot of people hold very sincere, very rational reasons for their prefered partisan flavor, whatever they may be, but don’t be delusional. This country (not to mention the Democratic party) is going to have to move a lot lot farther to the left before anything close to legalized marijuana is even remotely possible. My hats off to the very few Republican/Conservatives who do support Reform, but that is not where the Republican party is. Voting Republican and wanting legalized Marijuana is like trying to get from California to Arizona by heading west. Possible – yes, sane – no. Again, no offense, I’m ashamed of the Democrats cowardice on this issue.

    7. Garret says:

      Why does the DEA have complete jurisdiction and ownership on medical decisions? Cannabis is an effective medicine … This is proven for certain conditions like MS. Not to mention cannabis is effective for pain relief and safer than the opiates!
      Of course Big Pharma doesn’t want you to hear this how would they make money from a fucking plant! Maybe i should just say I’m growing my own medicine so the pigs can storm my house trooper style and shoot my dog. That’s par for the course for these assholes.

    8. Theo says:

      I’ll join a DC march but will need to borrow a wheelchair as I can’t walk more than 1 block without back pain. My N.Y.S. Disability claim has been denied by a bankrupt state. My lawyer says we will win but the wait is about 2 years for a hearing. Do you think 10,000 wheelchairs parked in front of the Capitol would make a difference? (All people in chairs must be certified by a MD)

    9. Matt says:

      “bah! those stoners just want an excuse” I can hear it now (or is it ringing in my ears from the last idiot?). It is so hard for them to comprehend the concept that something that is good & enjoyable can also be medically beneficial. They can’t wrap their heads around it AT ALL.

      I still don’t get why they can’t understand this: We believe it is good, yes, and we want it for everyone. But we want it for the people who NEED it FIRST. That’s not sneaky or tricky… unless you’re only playing with 2 brain cells.

      btw– any thoughts on Palin’s recent comments? Obviously she is just doing it for political points but there is a chance we will have 2 candidates in 2012 who have (A) smoked it and (B) said things pointing towards decrim but neither would do it

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