|Photo: Amanda Brown/The Star-Ledger|
|Sandy Faiola, of Asbury Park, and members of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana in New Jersey at a protest in August|
The New Jersey State Assembly has just approved a bill which legalizes medical marijuana in the Garden State.
The bill now goes to the State Senate for its approval later today, before the end of this lame duck session, and Gov. Jon Corzine is expected to sign it into law, reports Brian Thompson of NBC New York.
Monday afternoon, a group of patients suffering from various debilitating diseases convened at the statehouse and urged legislators to make legal medical marijuana a reality in New Jersey. Nearly a dozen medical cannabis supporters sang songs and told stories at a pro-legalization news conference.
”It should be between a patient and her doctor,” said Ralph Portuguez, referring to his wife Marta, 49, who suffers from 10 chronic illnesses, including fibromyalgia, a painful disease affecting the nerve endings.
Supporters are hoping that as many as 10,000 chronically ill patients will be able to get relief from doctor-recommended medical marijuana if the bill passes.
“It would legitimize marijuana as a medicine in a way other states haven’t,” said Chris Goldstein of the New Jersey Coalition for Medical Marijuana on the eve of the vote.
Goldstein said the bill calls for half a dozen non-profit dispensaries that would grow their own marijuana.
Critics of the bill, many in law enforcement, complain it would make marijuana too available. “It opens things up too much too fraud,” claimed Marty Lynch of the New Jersey Narcotics Officers Association.
The legislature was in a marathon session Monday, and will consider nearly 100 bills before shutting down on Tuesday.
For more information about medical marijuana in New Jersey, visit Coalition for Medical Marijuana – New Jersey or NORML New Jersey.