Pubdate: Sun, 21 Dec 2008
Source: Courier-Post (Cherry Hill, NJ)
Copyright: 2008 Courier-Post
Referenced: Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


Drug has been proven effective in treating some medical conditions 
and should be legal to use for those patients.

New Jersey lawmakers took a key step toward allowing those suffering 
with cancer, AIDS, glaucoma and other conditions to legally use 
marijuana to relieve their pain.

Last week, the state Senate's Health, Human Services and Senior 
Citizens Committee, by a 6-1 vote, approved the Compassionate Use 
Medical Marijuana Act.

Legalizing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes remains 
controversial in part because it runs counter to federal drug laws 
regarding marijuana, and also because there are many people who do 
not want to see any door opened toward legalizing drugs.

However, there is overwhelming documentation and heartfelt testimony 
from people from all walks of life who have lived in tremendous pain 
and say that marijuana, more than any other medicine, helps reduce 
their pain, take away their nausea, clear up their vision, stop their 
muscle spasms, etc. These people are not drug abusers; they're 
regular Americans who are just desperate to live without the pain of 
often incurable diseases and conditions.

Who are we, and who is the government, to stop people from 
alleviating their suffering?

Thirteen states -- Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, 
Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont 
and Washington -- allow people, with a doctor's consent, to possess 
small amounts of marijuana and/or grow marijuana plants for their 
personal medicinal use.

The law New Jersey proposes would be similar. The state Department of 
Health and Senior Services would register people with debilitating 
conditions such as HIV, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, etc. and issue 
them a photo identification card. They would be able to possess as 
many as "six marijuana plants and an ounce of usable marijuana." The 
law would bar them from operating a motor vehicle while under the 
influence of marijuana or from smoking in many public areas.

At the committee hearing in Trenton on Monday, Joyce Nalepka, 
president of the national organization Drug Free Kids: America's 
Challenge, worked to convince lawmakers that legalizing medical 
marijuana would make children and young adults more aware of 
marijuana and that using it is acceptable. State Sen. Jim Whelan, 
D-Atlantic, was dead on in his response: "I think our youth are 
pretty much aware of marijuana today. I think we are kidding 
ourselves if we don't think that," Whelan said.

The fact is, the same laws and penalties we have for criminal 
marijuana use and distribution can be kept in place and enforced just 
as they are now.

But people who are in pain, some in their last days, deserve to be 
able to take whatever medicine works to help them. For certain 
conditions, marijuana has shown itself time and again to be a 
powerful medicine. There's no reason for New Jersey or any other 
government to stand in the way of people looking to ease their suffering.

We don't ban OxyContin or Percocet altogether because some people 
abuse those medicines and use them just to get high. Why? Because 
OxyContin and Percocet help many people with real medical 
condidtions. For the same reason, marijuana should be legalized 
strictly for medical use. 
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