State lawmakers in New Jersey will likely pass a bill to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, allowing HIV-infected patients to use the drug to relieve pain.
The latest version of the bill (S119) would also allow individuals with cancer, multiple sclerosis, seizure disorder, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and “any other medical condition” approved by the state Health Department to be eligible to receive medical marijuana.
If the legislation passes, New Jersey will become the 14th state in the country to legalize medical marijuana.
Current Democratic Governor Jon Corzine has committed to signing the medical marijuana bill if it reaches his desk, but the Senate and the Assembly have yet to reach a final compromise about certain aspects of the legislation.
Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, a sponsor of the bill, said the two branches do agree on “95 percent” of the bill’s details. S119 will be reintroduced to the new Legislature if it does not reach Corzine’s desk before he leaves office in January.
During a televised debate on October 1, Republican Governor-elect Chris Christie, who takes office on January 19, pledged he would sign the pending bill only if its “safeguards” were strengthened.
“We don’t want people who have a headache to be able to go and get marijuana,” Christie said. “We want to make sure we don’t turn into California.”
California’s laws have been widely criticized for not setting strict limits on access to the drug. Patients and their caregivers in California may possess and grow marijuana.
New Jersey’s proposed law sets stricter limits. The legislation requires that patients pick up the drug, and patients are limited to one ounce of marijuana a month.
In California, patients are allowed to possess no more than eight ounces at a time.
For more information, please read the news article on NJ.com. For coverage of the televised debate, please visit The New York Times Web site.
By Nora Proops
January 6, 2010
The AIDS Beacon
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New Jersey Likely To Legalize Medical Marijuana