Monday, January 11, 2010

New Jersey Lame Duck Legislature's Last Stand

A bill allowing the distribution of medical marijuana at state-run dispensaries passed the Assembly today and it is likely to be passed by the State Senate with Gov. Corzine signing the measure as he leaves Trenton on January 19. It passed by an overwhelming majority - 48-14. Users would not be able to grow their own marijuana, which is a departure from the California medical marijuana law.

The Assembly and Senate versions need to be reconciled, but that appears to be a minor issue and New Jersey can expect to be the 14th state to legalize medical marijuana.

It's expected that incoming Gov. Chris Christie would be amenable to the medical marijuana provisions.

New Jersey considers a medical marijuana law

Meanwhile, the vote on giving illegal aliens in-state tuition is pretty much a dead issue.

The legislature's session ends today, so any legislation that isn't signed into law is effectively killed until it gets reintroduced in the new session.

The legislature passed the medical marijuana bill, and all it needs is Corzine's signature before Tuesday and New Jersey will be the first in the region to legalize medical marijuana.
Gov. Jon S. Corzine has said he would sign it into law before leaving office next Tuesday. Gov.-elect Christopher J. Christie, speaking at a press conference on Monday before the vote, reiterated his support for legalizing the medical use of marijuana as long as the final bill contained safeguards to ensure that it did not end up encouraging the recreational use of the drug.

Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, a Democrat from Princeton, said the New Jersey law would be the most restrictive in the nation because it would only permit doctors to prescribe it for a list of serious chronic illnesses. The legislation would also forbid patients from growing their own marijuana and using it in public, and it would regulate the drug under the strict conditions used to track the distribution of medically prescribed opiates like Oxycontin and morphine.

“I truly believe this will become a model for other states because it balances the compassionate use of medical marijuana while limiting the number of ailments that a physician can prescribe it for,” said Mr. Gusciora, who sponsored the bill.

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