NJ Allows Medical Marijuana for Some People Who Need It
|January 29, 2010||Posted by Jeffery J. Smith under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
NJ Allows Medical Marijuana for Some People Who Need It
California Assembly committee OKs bill to legalize marijuana
Whenever politicians address one contentious issues with radical reform, it raises the possibility that they might do so again, specifically, help resurrect the commons in order to deal with poverty, recession, and eco-ploitation. Winning a fundamental reform like geonomics, which flies in the face of the speculation spirit, requires a space for rational thought, a space created by calmly addressing drugs. We trim, blend, and append three 2010 articles from: (1) Raw Story, posted Jan 12 on AlterNet, by Stephen Webster; (2) the Los Angeles Times, Jan 12, by Patrick McGreevy; and (3) the LA Times, Jan 28 by John Hoeffel.
by Stephen Webster, by Patrick McGreevy, and by John Hoeffel
- NJ Allows Medical Marijuana for Some
By a vote of 48 to 14 in the state’s assembly, New Jersey became the 14th state in the union to make legal accommodations for the use of medical marijuana.
The bill, which was supported by both outgoing Gov. John Corzine and Governor-elect Chris Christie, will likely become law this week. It restricts doctors from prescribing marijuana for anything less than a terminal illness or debilitating condition, such as cancer, AIDS, or multiple sclerosis.
Patients will not be allowed to grow their own supply and sales of medical marijuana will be tracked by the same regulatory framework used with powerful opiates like OxyContin.
New Jersey Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, a Democrat, told The New York Times that the state’s medical marijuana provision will be the most strict in the entire nation.
Instead of allowing private pot shops that limit their customers to those with a prescription, New Jersey will establish six non-profit marijuana-growing operations that do not purchase their supply from elsewhere.
“It would legitimize marijuana as a medicine in a way other states haven’t,” Chris Goldstein, of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana, told NBC New York.
“This is a wonderful beginning,” said Nancy Fedder, a 62-year-old multiple sclerosis sufferer and illegal medical marijuana patient, speaking to Bloomberg. “Its something that needed to happen a long time ago; sometimes I have to go to bed and stay there for days, and when I smoke marijuana the pain comes right down.”
The Times noted that opponents of the New Jersey bill repeatedly cited California’s allowance of medical marijuana as a cautionary tale.
However, in California, the annual value of the state’s illegal marijuana crop has been estimated to top $13.8 billion, according to The San Francisco Chronicle. In the time since California legalized medical marijuana with loose restrictions on where and how it could be sold, the drug has effectively been decriminalized state-wide.
Should the state legalize the plant for recreational use, legislators expect to see up to $4 billion in tax revenue in the first year alone, at a time when California is coping with deep budget cuts amid a fiscal crisis unlike any the state has ever seen.
- California Assembly committee OKs bill to legalize marijuana
A proposal to legalize and tax marijuana in California was approved by a key committee of the Assembly, over the dire warnings of police chiefs and prosecutors.
The Public Safety Committee voted 4-3 to approve AB 390 by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), who said the bill would provide tax revenue to the state and regulation of the drug. The new law includes a requirement that users be at least 21 years old.
The measure next goes to the Health Committee, but proponents worried it would not be acted on by that panel by Friday’s deadline.
“The way it exists now is harming our youth,” Ammiano said. “Drug dealers do not ask for ID. We need to regulate something that has gone chaotic, has resulted in carnage.”
It is estimated that the bill would generate $1.3 billion a year in taxes and marijuana cultivation fees.
Assemblyman Danny Gilmore (R-Hanford), a former CHP commander, said the $50 tax on each ounce of marijuana sold to pay for drug education and treatment is not worth any grief that may follow the legalization.
The measure was opposed law enforcement officials including Bob Cooke, former president of the California Narcotics Officers Assn., who predicted it would lead to an increase in crime.
JJS: On the other hand, there is an association of police who show how a more tolerant policy would actually reduce both crime and addiction.
- Marijuana legalization backers hand in initiative petitions
Supporters of legalized marijuana have gathered about 700,000 signatures for their initiative, virtually guaranteeing voters will see it on the November ballot.
They plan to turn in the petitions today to elections officials in some of the state’s major counties. Supporters need 433,971 valid signatures to qualify the measure.
The measures main proponent, Richard Lee, a highly successful Oakland marijuana entrepreneur, bankrolled a professional signature-gathering effort that was bolstered by volunteers from the states hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries.
This is a historic first step toward ending cannabis prohibition, Lee said.
The initiative, known as the Regulate, Control, and Tax Cannabis Act, would make it legal for anyone 21 and older to possess an ounce of marijuana and grow plants in an area no larger than 25 square feet for personal use. It would also allow cities and counties to permit marijuana to be grown and sold, and to impose taxes on marijuana production and sales.
Lee’s firm, one of the state’s most successful marijuana businesses, has spent more than $1 million on the measure and hired professional consultants to run the campaign. Lee owns half a dozen mostly pot-related businesses in Oakland, including Coffeeshop Blue Sky, a medical marijuana dispensary, and Oaksterdam University, which offers classes on marijuana.
Polls have shown growing support nationwide for legalization. In California, a majority favors it. A Field Poll taken last April found that 56% of voters in the state and 60% in Los Angeles County want to make pot legal and tax it.
Is 2010 [a year lacking a presidential race so turnout tends to be smaller] the right year to test whether Californians would again break new ground on drug legalization, as they did in 1996 when they approved marijuana for medical use?
If passed, the initiative would put the state in conflict with federal law. The Obama administration last year announced it would not prosecute medical marijuana dispensaries that adhere to California’s laws but has opposed efforts to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.
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