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