New Jersey Becomes 14th State to Legalize Medical Marijuana


TRENTON, NJ --- Patients and advocates celebrated today as the
"New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act" was signed into
law by outgoing Governor Jon Corzine. The new law provides patients protection
from arrest and prosecution for possession and transportation, and establishes
state-regulated distribution of medical marijuana by "Alternative
Treatment Centers."

New Jersey is the 14th U.S. state to pass a medical
marijuana law, and the third largest in population after California and

"We applaud the New Jersey legislature and Governor Corzine for addressing
the needs of medical marijuana patients in their state," said Caren
Woodson, Government Affairs Director with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the
country's largest medical marijuana advocacy group. "The passage of New
Jersey's law represents the continuation of commonsense health policies and
it's only a matter of time before the federal government catches up."

December, Congress lifted an 11-year ban against the implementation of a local
medical marijuana initiative passed by the voters of Washington, D.C., bringing
the issue that much closer to the federal seat of power.

Although advocates are excited to add New Jersey to the growing list of medical
marijuana states, they are also concerned about some aspects of the new law. On
one hand, New Jersey is continuing the trend of regulating medical marijuana
distribution, which was started by local governments in California and
followed-up by state-run programs in New Mexico, Rhode Island and Maine.

However, on the other hand, patients are forbidden from growing marijuana
themselves and must obtain it from one of six "Alternative Treatment
Centers" in the state, thereby limiting accessibility, variety and

Compared to several other medical marijuana states, New Jersey's law strictly
limits the list of approved medical conditions. While those with severe
illnesses like cancer, HIV/AIDS, Lou Gehrig's disease, muscular dystrophy and
multiple sclerosis are protected under the law, patients with chronic pain
cannot benefit from medical marijuana unless their pain is the result of
HIV/AIDS or cancer.

Yet, studies have shown that by using marijuana to
alleviate chronic pain, many patients reduce or eliminate their reliance on
harmful and addictive pain medication. Marijuana is used for chronic pain more
than any other single medical condition. Advocates also predict that the
2-ounce per month limitation in New Jersey's law will fail to meet the needs of
all patients, especially those who cannot inhale marijuana smoke and must
ingest it.

Today's signature by Governor Corzine follows a 48-14 vote by the General
Assembly and a 25-13 vote by the State Senate. However, behind the scenes,
adoption of the New Jersey law was hard fought by patients and advocates who
spent years lobbying their elected officials. Governor Corzine approved New
Jersey's medical marijuana law a day before he is to leave office. The state is
now tasked to develop regulations and the law will go into effect in six


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