New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s orders this week to begin implementing the state’s medical marijuana program — a move that could allow the drug to be sold to chronically ill patients by the end of the year — has reinvigorated the push for similar legislation here.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who in last year’s campaign shut the door on a medical marijuana law, now says he’s reconsidering. The Democrat says he’s talking to both sides of the issue, but hasn’t changed his view opposing the prescription use of marijuana.
State Sen. Diane Savino (D-North Shore/Brooklyn) is urging the governor and fellow legislators to follow the lead of their cross-Hudson counterparts.
“New Jersey showed real compassion for Garden State residents who are suffering from cancer, multiple sclerosis and other life-threatening diseases,” said Ms. Savino in a letter sent today to the governor. “We need to follow this example and pass legislation to allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana when no other option is available.”
Ms. Savino is a co-sponsor of legislation that would legalize medical marijuana in New York
Her support for the measure stems from having witnessed her parents suffer terribly with terminal cancer: Her father Arthur died in 1990, at the age of 53; eight years later, her mother, Diane, died at the age of 61.
“Anyone who has watched a loved one struggle with a debilitating illness would do almost anything to help alleviate their pain,” Ms. Savino said.
The Senate bill, like a companion piece in the state Assembly, would give seriously ill patients the ability to purchase the drug through a registered dispensing facility with a physician’s approval. The program would be tightly controlled with patients having to register with the state Health Department, and be permitted to have no more than 2.5 ounces at a time.
The bill is still in the Health Committee, where it has been since it was introduced in 2009. For any forward motion, it must pass that committee before moving to the Rules Committee and then to the floor for a vote.
While last year’s calendar was busy with such measures as marriage equality and rent reform, there may be room to move forward in the next legislative session, said Ms. Savino’s spokesman, Rich Azzopardi.
With the exception of Assemblyman Matthew Titone (D-North Shore), no other member of the borough’s state delegation has stepped forward to back Ms. Savino, and most have expressed reservations about a medical marijuana law here.
New Jersey is the sixteenth state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana. The New Jersey law was signed by Christie’s predecessor, Jon Corzine, shortly before leaving office in January 2010.
The green light from the Christie administration yesterday means the nonprofit organizations authorized to sell the marijuana will be told to get to work opening a store and begin growing as soon as possible.
At some point — although health officials have not said when — Garden State patients recommended by their doctor to enroll in the program will be told to apply for an identification card and to place their name on a state patient registry.
Some questions remain whether users of New Jersey’s medical marijuana could still be prosecuted under federal law, although it has been hinted by federal authorities the government will not arrest legitimate medical users in states where it the practice is legal.
Supporters of medical marijuana site studies showing the drug can mitigate pain, nausea, and other symptoms in some patients who are unresponsive to other medication.
Associated Press and New Jersey Star-Ledger material was used in this report.
– Article originally from Staten Island Advance.