December 18, 2014

NJ: Senate Medical Marijuana Hearing An Important Step

Photo: Chris Goldstein

The New Jersey Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Services Committee will hold a public hearing on January 20, 2011 to discuss two medical marijuana resolutions SCR 130 and SCR 140. The hearings begin at 12noon in Committee Room #1 at the State House Annex.This is an important part of an ongoing legislative process to re-write regulations proposed by the Christie Administration for the medical marijuana program.Potentially qualifying NJ residents and local medical cannabis advocates found that the draft rules introduce so many new, severe restrictions that they do not follow the intent of the law.Last month the NJ Legislature agreed with that assessment. After hearing testimony before several committees the Assembly and Senate voted forward a set of resolutions introduced by Senator Nicolas Scutari. These resolutions would invalidate the rules and possibly set about re-writing them.The resolution process mandated that a public hearing be called on the issue. The transcript will be placed on the desks of all the legislators for twenty days as elected officials consider the next move. The Senate committee hearings this week will generate that key transcript.The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act was signed exactly one year ago today by then-governor Jon Corzine.Described as the most restrictive medical marijuana law in the nation, it was the first of its kind to remove provisions for home cultivation and allows registered patients just two ounces of raw plant material per month.New Jersey’s new governor Chris Christie has put up a series of barriers to the law’s implementation. So far qualifying patients have no ability to register with the state and no cannabis is being cultivated for them.Senator Nicholas Scutari (D-Union), who is the lead sponsor of the medical marijuana law released the following statement last week:“A year after passage of our medical marijuana law, patients with chronic and terminal illnesses are still awaiting relief. While I believe it is critical to get this program off the ground, implementing it within the guidelines of existing regulations will render it useless.To that end, I am committed to moving forward with overturning unworkable regulations put forward by the administration to ensure that sick and dying patients get relief. However, I am still hopeful that we will not need to see this process through.I have pledged to work with the governor on a medical marijuana program that follows the legislative intent of the law, and fulfills our promise to provide compassionate care to patients who need it the most. I remain hopeful that we will reach a true compromise.”Advocates expect that dozens of potentially qualifying patients will testify at the hearings this week.More info about NJ medical marijuana – www.cmmnj.org