Advocates Push for Medical Marijuana Use

Advocates Push for Medical Marijuana Use
Posted by CN Staff on January 19, 2005 at 07:31:26 PT
By Terrence Dopp
Source: Gloucester County Times
Trenton -- In a move anti-drug activists called counterproductive to their cause, advocates renewed their quest Tuesday to legalize medicinal marijuana in New Jersey. The legalization calls came moments after the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey touted successes in fighting teen use of illicit drugs by enhancing communication between parents and children.
Some researchers and supporters of prescription cannabis argue it can cure glaucoma, ease the debilitating effects of multiple sclerosis and reverse "wasting disorders" such as cancer and AIDS. Legislation is pending in the Senate and Assembly that would legalize a medical form of marijuana if prescribed by physicians to patients with those diseases or other conditions that left them with severe and chronic pain or nausea. Eligible patients would need to enroll in a state registry of those with access to the drug. Officials with the administration of acting Gov. Richard Codey put up opposition to the proposal. "It is counter to what we're trying to do, but until we read the bill it would be foolhardy for us to say we are for it or against it," said Joseph Miele, chairman and founder of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, as well as the chairman of the Governor's Council On Alcoholism And Drug Abuse. Codey has also come out against the proposal, dubbed the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act. Currently, Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and Montana have passed medicinal marijuana laws; the federal government has opposed all of them. Ken Wolski, director of the New Jersey Coalition for Medical Marijuana, said the federal government has been "irrationally opposed" to such laws, resistance he called cruel to those suffering from serious diseases. "These patients are suffering without it. It can save lives and it can prolong lives," said Wolski, a registered nurse of 30 years. "It's really criminal to prevent its use." In November the American Association of Retired Persons released results of a telephone survey that found three-quarters of Americans 45 or older support administering medical marijuana. In the Northeast, 79 percent of respondents told AARP that they support edificial initiatives. Assemblyman Robert Smith, a municipal prosecutor who often deals with drug-related cases, said he is in favor of allowing some medicinal use of tablets containing tetrahydrocannabinol, the drug's active ingredient. Smith said he could see why Miele and others see it is a double standard but is not swayed by that argument. Doctors can administer addictive medications such as Oxycontin and Percoset, he said, adding both can be dangerously misused. "As a prosecutor, I don't have kids in court who are shoplifting to support a marijuana problem. It's typically heroin and cocaine. That's not to downplay the seriousness of the illegal use of marijuana," said Smith, D-4 of Washington Township. "It has the potential of having a conflicting message but physicians are presently prescribing drugs ... that are a lot more addictive." Senate Minority Leader Leonard Lance, R-Hunterdon/Warren, said he does not hold high prospects for legalized THC clearing the Legislature. "I don't believe there will be a great deal of support within the Republican caucus," Lance said. "I'm reluctant to legalize marijuana. But I would be willing to listen." No hearings or debate on the bill has been scheduled in either house of the Legislature. According to the partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, parents in the Garden State with a 12- to 15-year-old child reported speaking to them about drugs at least 25 times in the past year. These talks are often spurred by advertisements warning of the dangers posed to youngsters by drugs and alcohol, according to the partnership. Source: Gloucester County Times (NJ)Author: Terrence DoppPublished: Wednesday, January 19, 2005Copyright: 2005 Gloucester County TimesWebsite: http://www.gctimes.comContact: egoldberg sjnewsco.comRelated Article & Web Site:AARP Magazine Examines Medical Marijuana Support Medical Marijuana Archives 
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on January 24, 2005 at 15:38:44 PT
NORML Alerts: Take Action Now! Friends:NORML is pleased to announce that S. 2200, a bill to legally protect medical marijuana patients, has been introduced in the New Jersey Senate. 
 Now is the time to contact your state Senator and urge them to support this important legislation.The use of marijuana as medicine is a public health issue; it should not be part of the war on drugs. Modern research suggests that cannabis is 
avaluable aid in the treatment of a wide range of clinical applications.These include pain relief,  particularly of neuropathic pain (pain from nerve damage); nausea; spasticity; glaucoma; and movement disorders.
Marijuana is also a powerful appetite stimulant, specifically for patients suffering from HIV, the AIDS wasting syndrome, or dementia. Emerging
research suggests that marijuana's medicinal properties may protect the body against some types of malignant tumors and are neuroprotective. According to a recent national survey of U.S. physicians conducted for the American Society of Addiction Medicine, nearly half of all doctors with
opinions support legalizing marijuana as a medicine.To deny an effective medication to the sick and dying in order to "send a strong message to kids" against drug abuse is cruel and unconscionable,
and improperly interferes with the relationship between a patient and his/her physician. We already allow the medical use of many drugs, 
such as cocaine and morphine, which can be abused in a non-medical setting.Basic compassion and common sense demand that we allow the seriously ill to use whatever safe medication is most effective.This bill will help to ensure that medical marijuana patients in New Jersey will no longer have to fear arrest or prosecution from state law
enforcement. However, the bill will only receive serious consideration if the elected officials in New Jersey hear an unmistakable message of
support from their constituents.Please take two minutes of your time to write your state Senator and tell them how important it is that they support medical marijuana. NORML has created pre-written letters that you can send to your legislators by visiting: you for your help.Sincerely,Kris Krane
Associate Director
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on January 21, 2005 at 16:37:36 PT
Related Article from
Legislator Wants to Legalize Medical Marijuana Jan. 21 -- A state senator who prosecutes drug abusers wants to legalize the "compassionate medical use" of marijuana to treat pain and other symptoms in seriously ill patients. Sen. Nicholas P. Scutari, D-Union, the Linden city prosecutor, has proposed legislation to protect people with debilitating medical conditions from arrest and prosecution for the use of medical marijuana. New Jersey needs a law, similar to those in 11 other states, to attempt to preempt the federal ban on using medical marijuana, Scutari said Thursday. "As a prosecutor, I see the detrimental effects of recreational marijuana," Scutari said. "However, marijuana has been shown in many cases to give people with debilitating medical conditions a chance to lead normal lives."The bill would let doctors authorize medical marijuana for patients with diseases -- such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma and AIDS -- that cause chronic pain, seizures, severe nausea and wasting syndrome. Patients certified by their doctors would be issued registration cards by the state permitting them to possess six plants or 1 ounce of marijuana. Parental written consent, and monitoring of marijuana use, would be needed for patients under age 18. Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, D-Mercer, who is preparing a similar bill, thinks it has a good chance of passing. "The ironic thing is that morphine, a derivative of the poppy, is acceptable for use in last-stage illness," but medicinal use of marijuana, which is a less potent drug, is illegal, he said. Dr. Samyadev Datta of Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck would approve marijuana only for terminally ill patients. "If I was with a cancer patient who was going to be dead in two months, I would tell her, 'Go ahead,'" and smoke pot to relieve pain, said Datta, an anesthesiologist and director of the Pain Management Center at Holy Name. "But somebody who has a bad back but will be alive for 30 years, I have a problem" approving marijuana use. Datta approves of the use of Marinol, a tablet form of the marijuana chemical compound THC. But he concedes that the medication does not work as well as marijuana because the pill is not absorbed as effectively by the body. The Medical Society of New Jersey, which has opposed marijuana in the past, called for more study of the issue, said John Shaffer, a spokesman. Ken Wolski, a registered nurse and head of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey, hailed the proposal. "We think it's great," Wolski said Thursday. "It's actually a very conservative bill," he said, noting that it forbids medicinal marijuana use in prisons, public parks and beaches, and while driving. States that have authorized medicinal marijuana use with doctor approval are Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. Copyright: Rednova 2004
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