Medical Marijuana: New Jersey Bill Passes State Senate

The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (S119) passed the state Senate Monday on a 22-16 vote. Gov. Jon Corzine (D) said Wednesday he would "absolutely" sign the bill, but it must first get through the Assembly, where it faces votes in the health committee and by the Assembly as a whole.

The day was also notable for what happened right after the bill passed. Senate President Richard Codey (D-Essex), a well-known jokester, pretended to answer a phone on the podium, then yelled out to bill sponsor Sen. Nick Scutari (D-Linden): "Excuse me, Sen. Scutari, I just what you to know that was congratulating you, and it was from Michael Phelps," to groans and embarrassed laughter from the chamber, which, not surprisingly, contained several seriously ill medical marijuana patients but no college-aged bong-hitters.

And that could be a sign of changing times, too. The joke went over like a lead balloon, a local TV station made an evening news feature of Codey's joke and the unamused reactions of medical marijuana patients and supporters, and the Asbury Park Press even editorialized that Codey should apologize for his "tasteless gag." The days of cheap laughs from comparing seriously, even terminally ill patients with Cheech & Chong may be coming to an end.
Jim Miller, husband of well-known patient/activist the late Cheryl Miller, at CMMNJ press conference introducing Sen. Scutari's first medical marijuana bill
Under the bill, there would be no penalties for the possession, use and cultivation of a small amount of marijuana when a licensed physician recommends it for a patient with a debilitating medical condition. Qualifying medical conditions include chronic pain, cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and Crohn's disease. Patients would be issued ID cards in a program run by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) and permitted to grow up to six plants and possess one ounce of marijuana, or have a registered caregiver grow it for them.

"The bill is very conservative," said Ken Wolski, 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. We applaud the senators who supported this bill."

Still, bill sponsor Sen. Nick Scutari (D-Linden) was understandably proud. "If medical marijuana can ease some of the suffering of a patient who's dying from a chronic, severe or terminal disease, state government should not stand in the way of that relief," Scutari said after the vote.

"For the sake of our most vulnerable, our sick and dying patients struggling for relief, now is the time for New Jersey to join the growing list of states allowing compassionate use of medical marijuana," said Roseanne Scotti of the Drug Policy Alliance New Jersey office.

On Wednesday, Gov. Corzine reiterated his previously articulated support for medical marijuana legislation. Appearing on WNYC radio's "Brian Lehrer Show," he responded to a question about whether he would sign this bill by saying "absolutely."

Now, it's on to the state Assembly. If the bill makes it to the governor's desk, New Jersey would become the 14th medical marijuana state, joining Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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NJ Medical Hemp Bill

Just a small point: I had this letter published in the Easton Express Times editorial section.

To the Editor,

Re: NJ Senate passes pot bill

Complements to the NJ Senate for passing a bill to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes. Hopefully the House will follow suit and finally there will be a safer alternative to the myriad of prescription drugs many chronic and terminal patients take to relieve their pain and suffering.

However, the real issue of why this plant has been so thoroughly demonized and made illegal in the first place needs to be addressed by the media and politicians alike before this plant can once again be used for its many purposes. At the root of the problem is the reason for marijuana/cannabis prohibition. In a nut shell; it is religious Christian fanaticisms and law enforcement exploitation. Both groups benefited from the war on drugs and its mother, alcohol prohibition. A good place for all to start their education on the war on drugs is this web site,

To start with ones research on this plant is to understand that cannabis has three very different uses. In American history the stalk or stem and seeds of the plant was used for industrial applications. Its medicinal purposes were known and used heavily during the 19th century and its recreational use was not widely recognized until the middle of the 20th century. The industrial uses of this plant include its fiber for cloth, the core of the stalk for biomass and fuel production and the seeds for its oil and food supplement. It medicinal application are many from its well known appetite enhancement to its use for pain management, and there are more benefits. Please do not miss my point here, cannabis is not a wonder drug, but it has therapeutic benefits and its federal status as a schedule I drug is ridiculous. Lastly as a recreational substance smoking, eating or drinking tea mad of the buds of cannabis is far safer then consumption of alcohol. If you doubt what I have written here all you have to do is the research. The information is abundant and plain for those who are willing to remove their heads from below the sand.

Al Smith

[email protected]

mislead about Christians??

Hey Al,

What you need to realize is that alcohol was not forbidden by God in the Bible. I guess He knew He would fail, if he tried to prohibit man from drinking it. (Or maybe He knew it would never work! God would never fail!) Now, people who call themselves Christian decide that alcohol and cannabis are not acceptable. They are what I refer to as "fake" or "religious" Christians and know very little about real Christianity or what is in their Bibles. They let someone else read it for them. (and teach it to them). They leave themselves in a position to be very mislead!! There are still many Christian churches, who do not demand abstinence. But there are still many that do. Those are the ones I avoid. They go against the Bible, they are supposed to be following, as the "Word of God"! How in the world can they change it ? Don't they really believe it?!

From what I heard yesterday on a short documentary is that Pope Innocent the 8th declared cannabis of the devil. He came along many years after the Bible had been written. Actually, in the 1400's sometime. And the Puritans even admitted alcohol was not forbidden, but somewhere, in there, (late 1800's) the Christians aligned themselves with alcohol and abstinence,and ended up pushing for its prohibition, going against the rules of God to make up their own! But man's prohibition was doomed to failure. Why did they think they could do something even God would not attempt? Dumb

One funny thing about the act of getting Prohibition passed. The eighteenth amendment only cut the alcohol to 4.5%. But the Volstead act, passed the following year make it 0.50%! Then all the bankers, lawyers and others found out they had been duped and would no longer be able to drink their wine with dinner! Is it any wonder, that the people, who slipped this over on the American public, would soon have their amendment rescinded?

We need to re-legalize cannabis, now! Its criminalization was just as bad as, the joke of, alcohol prohibition!


Cocaine, Marijuana and wine were all legal in the 1800's. Only since the US government has gotten into power have these drugs been condemned.

They spoke hash in Turkey. The drink alcohol in Europe at a minors age and yet do not struggle with alcoholism on the scale the US does.

The US buts its head into other countries affairs and there advice ruins these countries. Only because these countries desire the US economy to be shared do they heed any of this advice. The US drug is money.

They have torn apart Columbia, They are now tearing apart Mexico now. Mexico was going to decriminalize several drugs in 2006 but Bush shot it down. The deaths going on now are because Mexico backed off and sided with the US stance. We are providing guns and helicopters and training to the mexican military. What Hypocrisay the US citzens want the stuff over here.

The mexican cartel is not killing and dying to get us the drugs. They are killing and dying to get the cash the US citzens are willing to pay for the drugs. They need the money.

The mexican government is killing its own to get the choppers, guns and money. The US has created all this crap.

Legalize it all and let us teach our kids to be responsible.

Thank god for the senate passing this will give me back my life

I've been waiting a very long time for this to begin and I pray to god the assembly opens there mind to people suffering such as my mom with multiple mylomea and myself.

I myself have a debilitating disease that keeps me from eating in the morning do to extreme nautiousness and a bad case of IBS. On top of that I have insomnia and a few puffs before I go to bed helps me sleep soundly and wake up refreshed.

On top of that it helps with the chronic pain I've had since 2007 where I shattered a vertabrea in my back and broke 2 others along with a snapped sternum and fractured hip to go on and break my back again 7 months later. My back and muscles damamged from being bed ridden for 2 years causing muscle atrophy and a slight case of fibromialga. I try to go to the gym as much as possible to correct it but each time I go I need a full 5-7 days before the pain goes away.

I used to smoke illegally just so I could get up and go to work in the morning and be able to eat. But with the severe IBS I have it's hard to get outta bed in the morning and am currently still disabled from injuries sustained from the accident and being sick to my stomach(IBS and Nerve issues). The Assembly needs to pass this not just for me and my mom. But all others out there who have taken every medicine doctors can prescribe that only work for a short while or not at all. We the country not New Jersey need this to be put into law. My family considered relocating when I was 16 because we were so ignorant to medical marijuana.

This will be just like any other controlled substance. It is no worse, but better than the opiates such as oxycontin morphine and fentynal they hand out freely to people with dibilitating pain and severe diseases that cause it.

It was created by god and has been used medicinally for 1000's of years by our forefathers and ancestors. I myself am an IT engineer and it's an extremely stressful job. I was continuously losing my jobs do to absences from being sick to my stomach or leaving early because stress and anxiety attacks my stomach giving it spasms.

If anyone had a conscious they would pass this throughout the U.S.A. I still think as a controlled substance one passed the same penalities should apply as if you were to give someone a prescription pain pill, adhd medication or panic and anxiety meds. Yet this is better for you than all that. I would be able to work with ease, actually be able to eat healthier and eat more than just one meal a day a small meal at that. Who are they to stop this law from benefiting the terminally ill, or people like me who just got the short end of the stick. I currently don't smoke anymore in fear of getting arressted or in trouble in some sort of manner. Myself, my parents, and my psychiatrist has hoped this would be passed soon for myself and other people who have trouble with daily activities.

I hope God is blessing us all who need this and pass it. And to all you against it I find you very ignorant, because if it's god made and it brought peace between people and indians alike without any long lasting affects or physical/mental addiction why is it outlawed. There are more prescription drugs that can kill you the first time you take and are extremely addictive that we allow kids and adults alike to take without questions asked. We don't say oh my 17 year old son broke his arm and they provided him percocet for the pain(eventhough the repercussions could be addiction followed by withdraw which can be fatal) They say thank you and even when took as needed it's still dangerous. Alcohol is more dangerous.

So I say this for all of us in this country who need it to be prosperous and not on welfare or disability. God be with us until the assembly passes it and everyone comes to their senses.

Just add a clause that penalties insue for anyone who is selling there medical weed the same we would if someone sould morphine pills/pops. Plus the revenue brought into the state will more than make up for some of the debt were in. The government should of stepped forward 5 years ago. But there lack of knowledge of Gods medicine prevented it. Maybe they would of saved my aunt theresa who took her own life rather than suffer until she would of died from her MS. And the responsiblity for teaching children and others about this medication falls on us the parents, the teachers, the godparents, uncles, aunts and family members. As it has with prescription drugs now being abused. As it should be.

God be with us all at this time of need and bless us with the chance to live our lives to the fullest without the scrutiny of eyes cast down upon us and police looking for a reason to arresst. I've been quit smoking since 18 due to the problems it can bring you legally. Please assembly pass this and let your conceince and the will of the people suffering be your guide.

Christopher Erz

Really Sick!

I'm just really sick. I don't know what to do about my Chron's? People don't understand it? What it's like to just feel like throwing up all the time and not being able to sleep at night like everyone else get's to do. I can't eat food pretty much. I've lost over thirty pounds in a single month. I've other issues that are even worse, but losing all the weight makes it obvious to everyone that you look like you're dying. You know, some days you feel so ill to your stomach that it feels like you're dying.

I don't know if medical marijuana is the answer, but it is certainly worth a try for if it helps one patient it will have made that person be able to live like other people. I drink 900 calories at a time of the most disgusting crap I think they make, but I can't put on a pound, so I can say I am tired of all the silly bullshit around this issue. It doesn't take a room of scientists to figure this one out. I guess it's just the drug companies don't get to make money on a bunch of prescription drugs that don't help and cause other problems.

I hope the Assembly does the correct thing and passes this quickly, so it can be signed by the Governor.

I saw other people die of Cancer and they couldn't use Marijuana because it's not legal. I just can't even really understand all the debate. Look at some of us and ask yourself if you want to help someone. Did you ever see anyone, yourself waste away to nothing before your very eyes and not be able to do anything to help the other person or yourself? Now, make a decision.

Everybody in my family above me in the blood line died of complications related to Chron's and what became Cancer, so it's just a matter of time for me. So, the more time you take to make a decision the less of a chance I have to put on any weight and be able to try to really fight back. You know, if you're body can get back to being the right weight and all, well I think I can beat this thing!

Annonymous NJ Resident

marijuana use for cronic pain

i am 25 yrs old and in serious back pain. i had a fushion of thed lumber and smoken tree and a little oxycodone atease me with out the smoke i go nuts please legealize it to every 1 in the world who suffers like i do

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