Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Coming NJ Department of Pot

What's ahead for New Jersey after it enacts its Medical Marijuana law? Here's what. The state will form a new bureaucracy to ensure that only approved citizens are getting pot prescriptions. Auditors and investigators will monitor doctors who prescribe pot and the pharmacies that hand it over to patients.

Thus, it will become necessary for New Jersey to increase its taxes to pay for the new employees and the organization that will maintain compliance with the new drug laws.

This effort seems amusing after considering the fact that though it is illegal, marijuana is the leading cash crop in a number or states around the country. Meanwhile, the sources approved for providing the medical marijuana will undoubtedly provide an inferior product. That has been the case in other venues taking this path. Thus, in the end, those with legitimate prescriptions will quietly switch to a pot supplier able to deliver a quality product. Those supplies will come from the unlawful market. Pot growers should cheer this development. But it will increase the work for law enforcement.

NJ 'joint' vote to legalize medical pot

New Jersey moved to the brink of legalizing medical marijuana last night when both houses of the state Legislature voted that it's high time to make the move.

The bill was expected to be signed into law by Gov. Jon Corzine before his term ends next week and incoming Gov. Chris Christie takes over.

It would let patients with severe and painful diseases, like AIDS, multiple sclerosis and cancer, buy up to 2 ounces of pot a month.

The weed would be doled out by authorized state suppliers under the bill, which would make the Garden State the 14th to allow purchase of pot for medical reasons -- though the home-grown type would still be outlawed. Driving while high would also still be illegal.

Christie had said he'd support legislation legalizing medical marijuana as long as the measure is restrictive enough. Other lawmakers expressed similar concerns.

Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, a bill co-sponsor, says New Jersey's Compassionate Use Marijuana Act would be the nation's strictest law of its kind.

But Gusciora, a Democrat, also said the bill was designed to help suffering patients -- adding that there's no evidence medical marijuana causes an increase in overall drug use.

"I don't think we should make criminals out of our very sick and terminally ill," he said.

The legislation allows New Jersey's Department of Health to give registry ID cards to patients with "debilitating medical conditions."

The cards would allow patients to use marijuana and be immune from arrest or prosecution.

In order to get the cards, patients must show that they have severe or chronic pain, or other symptoms such as nausea, seizures, muscle spasms or wasting syndrome.

Roseanne Scotti, director of Drug Policy Alliance New Jersey, which advocates for drug-policy reform, called the passage of the bill, "a triumph of compassion."

But there was some opposition to the measure. Before the vote, Republican Assembly member John Rooney asked colleagues to let Christie, a former US Attorney re-work the bill.

"There are other drugs. There are many ways to relieve pain," Rooney told the Newark Star Ledger. "The US attorney is an expert in the area of drug enforcement, let him recommend controls. There are too many loopholes."


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