Pubdate: Thu, 18 Dec 2008
Source: Home News Tribune (East Brunswick, NJ)
Copyright: 2008 Home News Tribune
Referenced: Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


New Jersey should become the 14th state to legalize the use of medical

Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, sponsor of the "Compassionate Use Medical
Marijuana Act," noted this week, "Society is able to distinguish
between the lawful use of a substance and recreational use or drug

Exactly right.

The measure, which passed out of the Senate Health Committee by a 6-1
vote on Monday, is wildly controversial. Opponents argue it endorses
drug abuse, will make it easier for marijuana to fall into the wrong
hands, and they contend there is a lack of scientific evidence or
thorough study on the long-term effects of marijuana usage.
Supporters, naturally, see something else: a way for chronically ill
patients to relieve their pain when prescription drugs don't do their
job or cause debilitating side effects. People with AIDS, multiple
sclerosis, cancer and other serious illnesses are all on the list of

To those doubters who might still harbor second thoughts, here's some
measure of possible reassurance: the legislation is chock full of
sensible safeguards, enough to ensure that the bill if passed won't
mean that New Jersey is endorsing the use and spread of illegal drugs.

First, physician approval is required. Next, patients would be granted
a state-issued ID card enabling them to grow no more than six plants
or acquire the drug at a licensed alternative medicine center.
Patients would not be allowed to smoke and drive. Nor would they be
allowed to smoke in public places. As for possession, they would be
limited to tiny amounts, not enough to make themselves dealers.

Then there is the medical relief that marijuana can provide by
stimulating the appetite and alleviating nausea and vomiting, both of
which are common side effects of chemotherapy treatment. Numerous
patients say that traditional over-the-counter prescription drugs are
nowhere near as effective at easing pain.

As for the argument that Marinol, a synthetic form of THC, the active
ingredient in marijuana, is FDA approved and available as a
substitute, disease sufferers report that Marinol doesn't work nearly
as well, if it offers any relief at all.

The legislation heads next to the full Senate, where it appears to
have bipartisan support. If reason is brought to bear, the measure
will pass.

After that, the Assembly needs to act. The lower house has held an
informational hearing on the proposed law, but no other action is
scheduled. May that change come the new year.

Sen. Bill Baroni, R-Mercer, Middlesex, perhaps summed up the issue the
best: "The people who are asking us to do this today, these are people
who can't play piggyback with their 3-year-old. These are people who
get up every day and battle HIV/AIDS. They are people who wonder if
their chemotherapy is going to work."

In other words, they are all people with lives to live, if only they
had a way to ease their pain.

The responsible and controlled use of marijuana -- as a medicine, not
as an illegal drug -- offers that chance. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake