Pubdate: Thu, 08 Jun 2006
Source: Daily Record, The (Parsippany, NJ)
Copyright: 2006 The Daily Record
Author: Tom Baldwin, Gannett State Bureau
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Chronic Pain)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


TV Personality, Who Has MS, Speaks As Lawmakers Weigh Legalizing Medicine

TRENTON -- TV personality Montel Williams, who says he daily breaks 
the law by medicating himself with marijuana, presaged emotionally 
charged testimony expected today when New Jersey, for the first time, 
considers allowing prescribed pot.

"I break the law every day. I will continue to break the law every 
day," a sometimes teary Williams told reporters at a Statehouse news 
conference where the Drug Policy Alliance New Jersey -- which 
supports medical marijuana -- issued results of a poll it 
commissioned which showed support for their positions.

Today the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee 
will hear testimony, but not vote, on a proposal to allow seriously 
ill patients to possess one ounce of marijuana and six marijuana 
plants, if their doctor recommends it. The state would oversee the 
program and issue registration cards. In the poll, provided those 
specific descriptions of the rules, 71 percent of registered voters approved.

One sponsor is Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, who is a onetime 
prosecutor. "These people are not a threat to society," he said of 
the ill who seek salves for their pain. "We owe it to them to adopt a 
policy that places a premium on compassion and relief."

Carroll supports

The Assembly version is jointly sponsored by two of the more liberal 
and more conservative lawmakers. Assemblyman Michael Carroll, 
R-Morris Township, usually stands spheres to the right of Assemblyman 
Reed Gusciora, D-Mercer, but not on this issue.

"There is no such thing as an evil plant," Carroll says, noting 
medicines have always come from plants and that a decision to 
prescribe should be made by a doctor.

"It does not make sense for many of New Jersey's citizens to suffer 
when there is a viable way to ease their pain," Gusciora said.

Scutari said he felt the intent of the law was being trivialized by 
critics who say backers hoped to legalize recreational marijuana 
through a back door. "Let's open a dialogue," he said.

"The governor says that he will sign the bill, if it gets to him," he added.

Williams fought back tears as he described how marijuana eases 
night-and-day pain caused by multiple sclerosis, which the 
49-year-old said he was diagnosed with years ago. He said he is a 
registered medical marijuana user in California. Ten other states 
allow prescription use.

Rating constant pain on a scale of 10, Williams said going 
marijuana-free leaves him suffering at level of six or seven, but 
with marijuana, he eases back to about four.
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman