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Scutari: Compassion Justifies Medical Marijuana Use

TRENTON-Senator Nicholas P. Scutari today stated that “compassion for the suffering” justifies the legalization of medical marijuana in New Jersey.

“As a prosecutor, I see the detrimental effects of recreational marijuana; however, marijuana has been shown in many cases to give people with debilitating medical conditions a chance to lead normal lives,” said Senator Scutari, D-Middlesex, Somerset and Union. “As a lawmaker, I want to see seriously ill people given every option for treatment and pain relief.”

Senator Scutari stated that he introduced S-2200 on January 11th to protect people with debilitating medical conditions from arrest and prosecution for the use of medical marijuana. The bill will be reviewed by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.

“This legislation contains safeguards to ensure that doctors can authorize medical marijuana only to those who are suffering from debilitating conditions,” said Senator Scutari. “It also would limit possession of medical marijuana to six plants or one ounce for the qualifying patients or their primary caregivers.”

Under the bill, the Department of Health and Senior Services would issue registration cards to those whose doctors certify they are suffering from the debilitating effects of diseases such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, glaucoma, positive HIV or AIDS.

“These medical conditions oftentimes produce wasting syndrome, chronic pain, seizures and severe nausea all of which have been shown to be alleviated by medical marijuana,” said Senator Scutari.

According to Senator Scutari’s bill, the breakthrough research which discovered a beneficial use for marijuana in treating or alleviating pain from debilitating medical conditions was made by the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine in March of 1999. Over the last several years, Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington have authorized the use of marijuana for medical purposes. In addition, in Arizona, doctors are authorized to prescribe medical marijuana.

“New Jersey needs to join the effort to protect seriously ill people from criminal penalties for making their lives livable,” said Senator Scutari. “There are too many horrible stories of unbearable pain and suffering which don’t have to be retold because a remedy to ease these burdens is available.”

Senator Scutari noted that State law is needed to pre-empt the current federal ban on using medical marijuana. Those under 18 would need written parental consent to secure a registration card. In addition, parents of qualifying minors would be in charge of monitoring the “acquisition, dosage and frequency” of the medical use of marijuana, according to the bill.

“This legislation has been crafted to protect against abuses,” said Senator Scutari.

The bill specifically forbids operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of medical marijuana and bans its use on school buses, on any forms of public transportation, on school grounds, in correctional facilities, at any public park or beach, or at any recreation center.