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Medical Marijuana Advances In N.J.

022409mmj-protest.jpg Yesterday, the New Jersey Senate voted 22-16 to pass a bill legalizing the use of medical marijuana. Yes, after hearing testimony from sick people, 16 people managed to vote against the bill. Not surprising, of course.

First, some background: A lot of people in California buy their weed legally (under state law) in medical dispensaries; a sizable portion of these are people who just want to get high recreationally. But while the FDA would never approve marijuana as a medical drug — it’s smoked, for one reason — marijuana is most certainly the only or best remedy for a small but significant number of people. Generally, these people don’t get high. They use marijuana to ease pain when no conventional method works.

California’s law — passed in a 1996 referendum — is broadly-defined, and so there are storefront shops in certain places and legal tugs of war between the state and the feds and a moral panic from quite a few people. New Jersey’s law would allow patients up to six marijuana plants and an ounce of usable weed; they’d also have access to “alternative treatment centers” where they could get marijuana.

But enough of all that. Let’s get to the meat of the issue here. Over-the-top quotes from activists and politicians!

  • Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-Bergen): “It’s the wrong thing for people in New Jersey and the wrong thing for our children.”
  • Joyce Nalepka, president, DrugFree Kids: “There is no therapeutic use of this, and this is a bill based on a lie.”
  • David Evans, executive director, Drug Free School Coalition: “This is dressed up as compassion but this bill is way, way too loose… It will be too easy to get marijuana.”
  • John Tomicki, executive director, League of American Families: “Parents are alarmed they’ve given the green light for marijuana use.”
  • Terrence Farley of the anti-medical marijuana law enforcement group Safe Approved Medicine for New Jersey: “Marijuana is not medicine.”

Sen. Jeff Van Drew, who voted for the bill, made sure to tell the newspaper this factoid: “People don’t formulate their own morphine.” Be sure to also note this story from The Express Times, which actually takes seriously this classification from the government: “[T]he federal government classifies as a Schedule I drug alongside heroin and GHB, the date-rape drug.”

Update: I kept searching — because that’s what I do when I’m done a post, I keep gathering information about it! — and learned more about Gerald Cardinale, my new favorite New Jersey senator:

“Moderate use of marijuana causes brain cells to die,” Cardinale said. “That’s why the federal government made marijuana forbidden.”

Hey! Somebody needs to head over to the “Why is marijuana illegal?” page at Drug WarRant and learn some fun historical facts. I can’t wait for the debate in the Assembly.

N.J. Senate approves bill allowing use of medical marijuana [The Star-Ledger]
State Senate passes medical marijuana legislation [Press of Atlantic City]
New Jersey Senate approves medical marijuana bill [The Express-Times]

Photo by Shay Sowden used under a Creative Commons license

  1. Jeff Says: Feb 24 7:18 PM

    Why does everyone always refer to Medical Marijuana as a pain drug? What about chronic nausea, vomiting and wasting syndrome? Fact: There is no drug in today’s pharmacopoeia that safely controls chronic nausea and vomiting. Either from Diabetic Neuropathic Gastroparesis (paralyzed stomach) my disease or the nausea from chemo. The chemo patients are the lucky ones for their nausea and vomiting stops when chemo stops. Not true with gastroparesis, it is a lifelong disease. The most commonly prescribed drug for this condition is Reglan/Metoclopramide. When my digestive specialist handed me my Reglan prescription he said, “Do not take Reglan/Metoclopramide on a regular basis for it causes ‘irreversible Parkinson like shakes and tremors’ and, ‘Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome’ which is rarer yet fatal, and this is legal??? I have to live in fear of arrest, prosecution, imprisonment, forfeiture of money, property and government benefits in order to control chronic nausea, vomiting and wasting syndrome from my lifelong disease. Marinol is worthless, it does nothing for nausea or pain. Now Cesamet (a new drug to the U.S. but not Canada or Europe,) unlike Marinol, contains THC with the psychoactive ingredient along with CBD cannabinoids. Even though opiates are prescribed to people of all ages, including children, Cesamet can only be prescribed to adults 18 and over. I am still waiting for my Dr to check up on Cesamet and take me off Marinol and put me on Cesamet. However, Cesamet being a man made synthetic THC can’t be safer than the plant itself. By using a vaporizer I am able to titrate my dose accurately and safely i.e. vaporization removes all tars and carcinogenics from smoking and actually opens you bronchial system allowing the movement and expulsion of Flem in your airways. This is the healthiest, most efficient and effective way of introducing Cannabis into the body. After California legalizes Marijuana and reaps a minimum of 11 billion dollars in new taxes other states will follow by legalizing Marijuana simply to right a terrible wrong and restore our country/economy to the strongest in the world. As long as Cannabis is kept illegal the U.S.A. will be a faltering nation due to archaic abolitionist thinking and a failed economy. Legalizing marijuana or just Medical Marijuana does not send a message to our youth that marijuana use is OK. It simply shows the children that we, as a country, care for the sick and dieing. Keeping Marijuana illegal for fear that it will increase marijuana use among teens is just wrong. By keeping Cannabis illegal and away from those who would greatly benefit from it just shows our youth that we have an ignorant and prejudice government who sets its drug policies according to political and religious dogma while denying scientific and medical facts. While also prohibiting research into the medical efficacy of Cannabis, does that sound like a sane, fair and right way to run a government? Does that sound like the message we want to send to our youth? Why do you think we are getting closer to marijuana legalization? because the old prejudiced and close minded politicians are dieing off or being replaced by a whole new generation who wants Cannabis and Cannabis research legal. Since we have kept marijuana in a Schedule I drug not legalizing even Medical Marijuana for the past 5 or so generations, have we been sending the message to our youth that marijuana is bad? Evidently not for when these children became adults, voters and politicians they, the youth we so called protected from marijuana, are now in favor of Medical Marijuana legalization at the very least and total legalization for the best. For a country to limit the recreational drugs to alcohol and nicotine, which are both severely addictive, fatal and spawn a myriad of other serious and/or fatal conditions, is cruel, inhumane and sadistically insane. Alcohol withdrawals are fatal unless one is hospitalized yet it is legal and comedians from W.C. Fields to Red Skelton made a ton of money by doing skits on alcoholics. But Tommy Chong was imprisoned for selling glass bongs, a weapon of mass destruction. HA! G3et it together you ignorant politicians or you are out of here.

  2. Drug WarRant Says: Feb 24 11:17 PM

    Aren’t drug warriors funny?…

  3. brendancalling Says: Feb 25 11:51 AM

    nice bit, and timely.
    last night, i ran into a nice fellow running for judge of common pleas. After he articulated his views on marijuana, I had to tell him there was no way in hell i could support him.

    I was a bit buzzed, so i never asked his name.

  4. dmac Says: Feb 25 12:23 PM

    Jeff: That’s a nice block of text. Sorry, didn’t mean to imply it was just for pain or that it could only be used by smoking. (More people should use marijuana via vaporization.)

    Brendan: Can I guess what he said? “Gateway theory, marijuana most used so biggest problem, executions for drug dealers, a drug free America, etc.” Close?

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