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NJ: Legislature May Keep Medical Marijuana Law Intact


Nug of the Month: Aug 2008
An amendment to New Jersey's medical marijuana law was formally introduced on Monday. Bills A3054/S2105 include only a 90-day extension to implementing the law with none of the other proposed alterations. A concept where Rutgers University would cultivate all of the state's regulated cannabis was floated last week.

The current amendment seeks to push back the effective date of the law to October 1, 2010. The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) then has until January 2011 to finalize rules and regulations. The Christie Administration had asked for a 6-12 month delay.

The Star-Ledger reported that a Senate committee would consider the bill Wednesday at 10AM where changes to the law could still be considered.

NJ DHSS Commissioner Dr. Poonam Alaigh appeared on NJN's public affairs program On The Record this week. As a medical professional, she fully endorsed the overall scientific and therapeutic value of marijuana. She also said the DHSS staff was spending a significant amount of time on the cannabis program, even reaching out to other states.

In a phone call yesterday, New Mexico's Department of Health spokesperson Deborah Busmeyer confirmed that NJ DHSS staffers had made contact about the program.

Still, NBC 4 NY reported that Governor Christie's spokesman continued to employ rhetoric common among medical marijuana opposition groups, saying officials did not want the "wild-west" of California.

Legislators addressed those same opposition concerns over more than four years of committee and floor debate. The result was the strictest language of any similar medical cannabis law in the country. When the law passed in January the bill's sponsors said it was a direct result of their effort to avoid the California model.

While the New Jersey amendment A3054/S2105 includes only the delay, floor amendments are often changed just before voting. Advocacy groups say they will be in Trenton watching the amendment closely.

The bills could be passed on Thursday 6/24 or Monday 6/28. These are the last voting sessions before the Legislature takes summer recess.

CMMNJ and NORML-NJ held press conferences in Trenton and in Jersey City appealing for the law to be implemented.

New Jersey's potential patients and non-profit advocacy groups have been left wondering if this is Round 1 of a bigger fight to get the medical cannabis law working.

Quick facts on NJ vs CA medical cannabis laws

New Jersey's medical marijuana law allows for just 6 non-profit Alternative Treatment Centers to start the program. Registered patients are limited to 2 ounces or less of cannabis per month, the smallest amount in the nation. Patients may not grow at home. Residents are not afforded medical necessity defense unless they are carrying a DHSS medical marijuana registry card. Legal protections are not offered to patients unless the marijuana they possess comes directly from a state authorized ATC.

California's medical marijuana laws allow patients to posses 8 ounces at any time. No registry card is required from state authorities; some CA counties choose to issue cards. Patients may cultivate at home and are afforded legal protections without confirming their source of marijuana. Simply having a physician's written recommendation is all that patients require for the CA program. Marijuana dispensaries in California operate under county guidelines and are not directly licensed or pre-approved by any CA state government entity.

NewsHawk: Ganjarden: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: Examiner.com
Author: Chris Goldstein
Contact: Examiner.com
Copyright: 2010 Clarity Digital Group LLC d/b/a Examiner.com
Website: NJ: Legislature may keep medical marijuana law intact

* Thanks to MedicalNeed for submitting this article
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