Drug Law

New Jersey to Allow Medical Use of Marijuana

| by Reason Foundation

Yesterday both houses of the New Jersey legislature approved
a bill that allows people with specified illnesses and a doctor's
recommendation to obtain marijuana from state-licensed
dispensaries. The bill, which Gov. Jon Corzine has promised to sign
before he leaves office next week, will make New Jersey the 14th
state to permit the medical use of marijuana. Unlike California,
where patients are allowed to grow marijuana for their own use but
distributors must contend with dueling
interpretations
of a vague law, New Jersey will ban home
production while explicitly allowing sales of up to two ounces per
patient each month. The conditions for which doctors may recommend
marijuana include cancer, AIDS, Lou Gehrig’s disease, muscular
dystrophy, and multiple sclerosis. Patients will not be allowed to
use marijuana in public, and The New York Times reports
that it will be dispensed "under the strict conditions used to
track the distribution of medically prescribed opiates like
Oxycontin and morphine"—which, given the experience
with narcotic painkillers, suggests that many patients who could
benefit from it will not be able to obtain it.

It's not clear where this leaves John Ray Wilson, the New Jersey
man who was convicted
last month of growing marijuana that he used to treat his M.S.
Although the new law would not have allowed such cultivation, it
would have made it unnecessary, and it highlights the injustice of
punishing Wilson for using a soon-to-be-legal method of relieving
his symptoms. Corzine's office said he was waiting for the outcome
of Wilson's trial before considering the case for clemency. If that
means waiting until Wilson is sentenced on February 5, Wilson may
be out of luck, since Corzine leaves office on Tuesday.