In a move that would make New Jersey the one of the few states on the east coast to legalize medical marijuana, a bill easily cleared the legislature, and awaits the governor’s signature.
Governor Corzine has indicted that he will sign the bill before leaving office next week. Governor-elect Christie has indicated that he has some reservations with the legislation, but it appears the final version tightened restrictions and eased concerns that it could open the door to recreational marijuana use.
The law would only allow marijuana use for a specific set of diseases or chronic conditions, when prescribed by a doctor. Those ailments include ALS, AIDS/HIV, cancer, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and neuralgia.
Advocates claim marijuana use can ease pain more safely and effectively in many case than much stronger and more dangerous opiates and pain killers.
Critics are concerned that any legalization will increase the likelihood that teens will experiment with marijuana, and other drugs.
The bill is considered far stricter than medical marijuana laws in California. In that state, the statute is loosely defined and patients can easily get marijuana for anxiety and undefined chronic pain.
Other states that also permit medical use of marijuana under some circumstances include Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
New Jersey marijuana laws are among the strictest in the nation, with tough penalties for illegal possession that can include jail time.