New Jersey would become the 11th state in the nation to allow the medicinal use of marijuana without fear of criminal penalties, if the Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey has its way.
California was the first state to allow marijuana to be used under strict guidelines for medicinal purposes, said Lawrence resident Ken Wolski, who is the chief executive officer of CMMNJ. California has been joined by Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington, according to Mr. Wolski.
State Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden) sponsored a bill in the state Senate earlier this year that would allow patients to use marijuana under strict regulations, but the bill stalled, said Mr. Wolski.
CMMNJ, which is a volunteer-driven organization, would like the bill — titled the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act — to be reintroduced and adopted into law in 2006, Mr. Wolski said.
If enacted, the law would allow a patient suffering from a debilitating medical condition — cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, or a chronic or debilitating disease whose treatment results in wasting, severe or chronic pain or nausea, seizures, severe and persistent muscle spasms — to use marijuana to alleviate the symptoms.
"The combination of cannabinoid drug effects — anxiety reduction, appetite stimulation, nausea reduction, and pain relief — suggests that cannabinoids would be moderately well suited for certain conditions, such as chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and AIDS wasting," according to a 1999 report by the Institute of Medicine. The IOM is a component of the National Academy of Sciences.
Under the bill, a patient and his or her caregiver would be issued an identification card by the state Department of Health and Human Services that permits the use of marijuana. The patient's physician would have to certify that marijuana is needed for medicinal purposes.