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New Jersey’s New Medical Marijuana Laws

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On his last day in office, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine  signed 55 bills, including one legalizing medical marijuana.    Photo: http://www.spokesmanreview.com/media/photos/20071023_medicalpot.jpg

The legislation was finalized and voted on by the state assembly last week. Corzine’s signature adds New Jersey to a list of 14 states, including Alaska, Colorado, California, Rhode Island, New Mexico, Maine, Washington and Oregon that have legalized the plant for medicinal purposes. Four more states and Washington, D.C. plan to pass similar legislation by the year’s end.

Legalized weed may be on the rise – but don’t expect DJ Pauly D to start spinning Phish records just yet.

According to the Jersey legislation, marijuana can only be distributed at the doctor’s recommendation, and only to patients with one of five ailments: AIDS, ALS, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, and Cancer. The law gives the Department of Health and Senior Services authority to license marijuana distribution to six alternative treatment nonprofits throughout Jersey and the DHSS has six months to exact the rules of engagement, though restrictions are in place: The nonprofit centers must grow their own pot and do it indoors.

Such restrictions have been made to avoid criticisms and comparisons to California, where marijuana laws are lax to the point of pot vending machines and prerequisites for getting high no more than a payoff to a hippy doctor.

The Washington Post reported on April 12 of last year that pot has been sold in Los Angeles at “hundreds of storefronts” and was alone credited with “reviving a section of downtown Oakland” due to legal loopholes in the state’s 1996 ballot proposition which legalized medical marijuana.

New Jersey opponents of legislation, like David Evans of the Drug Free School Coalition, still worries about the legislation and predicted to NBC News that the law would be abused.

Jersey’s chronic liberalization comes as California is actually cracking down. The Associated Press  reported on Tuesday that the Los Angeles City Council will be imminently voting on a bill that caps the number of pot clinics in the city at 70, likely closing legal dealers within a certain distance of schools, parks and other public areas. In Denver, medical marijuana dispensaries outnumber liquor stores, public schools and Starbucks.

The Washington Post reported on Monday that over 80 percent of Americans (92 percent of liberals) believe medical marijuana should be legal. Fark.com added an “Obvious” tag to the headline.

So, what exactly does medical marijuana do? Most notably, everything Dave Chappelle’s Half Baked  promises: It makes you hungry and carefree. Dave Chappele in "Half Baked"  Photo:http://www.cinemablend.com/images/features/contests/halfbaked.jpg

For patients with AIDS, HIV and cancer, medical cannabis is often prescribed to subside pain and trigger weight gain.

Many patients and their families swear by it, even though many terminally ill men and women of the United States become bed-ridden outlaws the moment they decide to pursue the alternative treatment. And we might have been closer than a 14-state legality plurality at this point were it not for the war on drugging federal government, who’s basically outlawed research that would better allow scientists to release their findings.

Gardner Harris, writing for the New York Times  on January 18, writes that University of Massachusetts plant sciences professor, Lyle E. Craker  has been waiting nine years for federal authorities to okay him growing a supply of pot for study. If that’s not bad enough, the Times also reported that “marijuana is the only major drug for which the federal government controls the only legal research supply and for which the government requires a special scientific review.”

Normally you’d say whatever. It’s the government, and from 1936’s Reefer Madness  to Nixon’s war on drugs, they’ve always been behind the curve. What sets this administration apart is that Attorney General Eric Holder  announced last year that the DEA would no longer be prosecuting medical marijuana users in a legalized states, as had been the policy under President Bush. Yet, in spite of the Obama administration’s respect of state governments’ drug laws, they’ve still got the noose around science research’s neck with no cleaver in sight to cut her down.

Besides hunger and pain factors stated above, research has suggested medicinal marijuana may provide additional assistance to the sick.

· Harvard University researchers found in mouse studies that THC reduced lung cancer tumors by 50%

· The California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute found that cannabis may stop breast cancer from spreading through the body, providing a nontoxic, natural alternative to chemotherapy.

· Complutense University of Madrid researchers found THC chemicals to kill brain cancer cells causing similar effects as when THC is applied to lung cancer cells.

· THC has also proven to serve as a way to eliminate opiate dependence in rats. Addicted rodents were found to have less morphone-dependent behavior when exposed to THC – literally, the opposite of a “gateway drug.”

Looking to ease your pain in Philly but scared of the repercussions? Don’t be. According to WeBeHigh.com  (a surprisingly in-depth, informative website), although possession of 30 grams or less is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine, the site gives us a 4 out of 5 rating, with 5 meaning the drug is “virtually legal.” The site writes, “Marijuana is technically considered illegal [in Philadelphia], but the cops never care. They have real problems to worry about like crack addicts and burglary…I wouldn’t smoke pot in front of a police officer, but unless your [sic] big-time no one cares.”

And while Corzine’s term in state office was an uneventful one, the sick can rest assured their bong will not go unfilled.

 

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