Democratic Governor Jon Corzine signed New Jerseyâ€™s medical cannabis legislation into law on the night of Jan. 18, resulting in New Jersey becoming the 14th state to safeguard seriously ill patients from arrest and incarceration for usage of medical marijuana with their doctorsâ€™ written approval. Gov. Corzine signed the bill on the last full day he was in office, in that Governor-elect Chris Christie would be sworn in the following Tuesday.
The bill had been passed by the New Jersey Legislature on Jan. 11, passing by 25 to13 in the Senate and 48 to14 in the Assembly.
Unlike Californiaâ€™s Proposition 215, the New Jersey law will not only protect medical cannabis users from arrest and incarceration but also will save from harm by the state the regulated dispensers of medical pot. Sources say after the law takes effect, there will most likely be at least half a dozen legal dispensaries where legitimate patients can obtain their medicine, two in each part of the state. The recommended limit prescribed by doctors will be no more than two ounces per patient within one month.
The medical cannabis legislation, heavily lobbied for by the Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey and Drug Policy Alliance New Jersey, is expected to go into effect in the summer. This means patients who suffer from such diseases as AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and glaucoma, for example, will have their symptoms alleviated through justifiable, lawful medicine in the form of marijuana. There is no provision, however, for patients growing their own marijuana in their homes.
Activists say they are hopeful the victory won in New Jersey will somehow bleed into neighboring New York and surrounding states back east.
Meanwhile, chronically ill patients with needs being met by their illegal medicine live in fear of arrest and jail, until every state comes to the conclusion that marijuana can be used as legitimate medicine. Of course, the best to be hoped for would be federal laws permitting medical marijuana dispensing and usage â€“ thereby trumping statesâ€™ laws. Activists, however, do not picture this in the foreseeable future.