Friday, January 8, 2010

Final plea for medical marijuana in New Jersey


From: Chris Goldstein
Board of Directors, The Coalition for Medical Marijuana- NJ
executive Director of NORML-NJ

As someone who has advocated for safe medical marijuana access I am writing today to strongly urge you to vote 'Yes' in this final phase of the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act A804/S119.

Please, vote ‘Yes’ to allow your fellow New Jersey residents to treat symptoms or diseases that are the most horrifying to face or relief at the end of life

Vote ‘Yes’ to stop the arrest of seriously ill and dying NJ residents who choose the scientifically proven therapy of marijuana. I have personally witnessed the awful impact that medical cannabis prohibition is having on those suffering, such as MS patient John Wilson in Somerset County.

Vote ‘Yes’ to allow the same access to medical cannabis that exists in 13 other states and has been allowed by Congress recently in the District of Columbia. While there has been media attention paid to a few of those states, many of our nation’s medical marijuana programs run as a quiet success for those who desperately need this therapy.

2009 was a year that saw a tangible shift by the federal government on medical marijuana. The Department of Justice asked US Attorneys not to spend their resources prosecuting state authorized medical marijuana patients, caregivers and facilities.

During my own interactions with elected officials on all levels and the public, reasonable questions arise when considering a medical cannabis program. The New Jersey Legislature has considered this bill since 2005 and has continually refined the language. The result in 2010 is pragmatic legislation that sought to best protect and serve patients’ needs.

The current language of The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act A804/S119 would implement the most restrictive and tightly regulated medical marijuana program in the country. As advocates, we are confident that the current bill will benefit those suffering from some of the most serious medical conditions anyone must bear such as HIV/AIDS, Cancer, MS and ALS.

Medical marijuana is a concept that has significant public support, with 86% of residents favoring a state authorized program. Most major newspapers in the region have offered their editorial endorsement of the New Jersey bill. Organizations such as the New Jersey State Nurses Association, The New Jersey Academy of Family Physicians, The New Jersey Hospice and Palliative Care Organization along with other patient advocacy groups have strongly and consistently endorsed this medical marijuana legislation.

Please keep in mind that many NJ residents are indeed supporting the medical cannabis effort from the confines of their homes, hospital beds or hospice care facilities. Those who may directly benefit from an authorized access program in New Jersey have reached out to you to tell their stories and ask for your support. Thousands of calls, emails and postcards have been sent in from every area of the state.

I would ask that you review the compelling and even heartbreaking public testimony offered to the Senate and Assembly committees by these patients. These residents have had the courage to tell you the truth about the benefits of medical marijuana for their conditions, offering as much information as possible with advocates and medical experts.

Our plea is to allow safe, regulated access to this proven treatment and to stop making refugees or criminals of the sick and dying who legitimately seek relief from medical marijuana. In no uncertain terms; your support on January 11th will benefit those who suffer the most in NJ.

Please, vote ‘Yes” on Monday for The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act S119/A804.


Chris Goldstein

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