TRENTON -- Gov. Jon Corzine tonight signed a measure making New Jersey the 14th state to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes, part of a flurry of bills the Democrat penned in his last full day on the job.
The governor stayed out of sight in his Newark office as the Statehouse was readied for Republican Gov.-elect Chris Christie, who takes office at noon Tuesday.
“I have enormous gratitude to the people of New Jersey for this decade of opportunity to serve,” said Corzine, a U.S. Senator before becoming governor. He has not revealed his future plans.
The marijuana bill (S119) is expected to take effect in six months. Only patients with specific illnesses would be permitted to get a prescription: cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, seizure disorder, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gherig’s disease), severe muscle spasms, muscular dystrophy, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease and any terminal illness if a doctor has determined the patient will die within a year.
The law allows the state health department to include other illnesses when it writes rules implementing it.
The law has other restrictions, such as forbidding people from growing their own marijuana, ensuring it is dispensed through licensed “alternate treatment centers,” and requiring designated caretakers who retrieve the drug on behalf of someone severely ill to undergo criminal background checks
Coalition members hold diverse opinions, but we all agree:
Arresting patients is wrong, and it must stop now.
Modern clinical research, centuries of experience and the impassioned personal accounts of thousands of real patients concur: Marijuana can alleviate symptoms of certain serious medical conditions, and it can do so when other drugs fail to help.
Doctors should be free to recommend this medicine to promote health, and sick or injured New Jerseyans should be free to use it responsibly.
The safety margin for therapeutic marijuana is as wide as it can be ─there is no known lethal dose.
New Jersey healthcare professionals dispense potentially lethal drugs every day. We trust them to do so very carefully, and solely to benefit their patients. Common sense and compassion demand that doctors should control non-lethal marijuana medicine for those who truly need it. To make this important change a reality, your voice is needed.
The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act was introduced in the State Senate in January 2005 by Senator Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden). A companion bill is pending in the Assembly, sponsored by Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Princeton) and Assemblyman Michael Carroll (R-Morris Township).