A bill that would legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes is set for a Monday vote in the New Jersey Senate. The Senate floor vote comes after the bill was approved by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee in December.
The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (SB 119) would remove state penalties for the possession, use or cultivation of a small amount of marijuana when a licensed physician recommends it for a debilitating medical condition. Qualifying medical conditions include chronic pain, cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and Crohn's disease, among others. Patients would be issued ID cards in a program run by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). They would be permitted to grow up to six plants and possess one ounce of marijuana, but not to use their therapeutic marijuana in public or while operating motor vehicles. Patients would be able to designate a caregiver or treatment center to grow the plants for them, but the caregiver/center must also register with DHSS.
The New Jersey legislature has had medical marijuana legislation before it since 2005, when Sen. Nick Scutari (D-Linden) first introduced a bill. The bill had hearings in June 2006 and last December, when it passed out of committee on a 6-1 vote.
"The bill is very conservative," said Ken Wolski, RN, executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey. "No medical marijuana state has a smaller plant limit or possession amount. Still, it will help a tremendous number of patients here."
If the bill passes the Senate Monday, it then goes to the Assembly, where it must be approved by the health committee and then the Assembly as a whole. Gov. Jon Corzine (D) has said repeatedly that he supports medical marijuana and would sign a bill that makes it to his desk.
from Drug War Chronicle