Friday, December 13, 2013
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New Jersey's Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (A804/S119) passed through the state's Assembly health committee, but if the full Assembly ultimately votes in favor of the measure, New Jersey will be home to the most conservative medical marijuana laws in the country.
As Ken Wolski writes in his June 23 article ("Marijuana Bill Restrictions"), "No state has a lower plant limit or possession amount than New Jersey's bill would alllow. The committee's substitutions to the bill are overly restrictive and they possibly render the bill unworkable." In addition, the version of the bill on which the full Assembly will vote "remove[s] the provision for qualified patients to grow their own supply of marijuana; place[s] severe and unnecessary restrictions on physician recommendations; and den[ies] access to the largest population of patients, those suffering from chronic pain." As Wolski notes, chronic pain patients (excluding those using marijuana to treat pain associated with HIV/AIDS and cancer, to whom the bill does allow access to the drug) make up almost "half of all current physician recommendations for marijuana therapy," and "[s]ome of the most rigorous studies establishing the safety and efficacy of medical marijuana in pain management" have proved cannabis' "worth as a pain management tool."
The future of New Jersey's medical marijuana program is not, however, as bleak as it may seem. In his article, Wolski notes that the Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey "recommends that the Senate version of [the bill], which does not contain the Assembly health committee's substitutions, pass into law without delay. This will ensure that patients who are suffering from debilitating medical conditions can quickly begin to relieve their suffering and no longer need fear arrest and imprisonment for following the advice of their physicians."