Gov. Jon Corzine tonight signed a bill legalizing marijuana for severely ill patients, making New Jersey the 14th state to allow use of the drug for medical purposes. The bill (S119) was expected to take effect in six months. It was one of more than 50 measures Corzine signed today during his last day in office. Gov.-elect Chris Christie takes office at noon Tuesday. Only patients with specific illnesses would be permitted to get a prescription. The illnesses include cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, seizure disorder, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gherig’s disease), severe muscle spasms, muscular dystrophy, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease and any terminal illness if a doctor has determined the patient will die within a year. The legislation also allows the state health department to include other illnesses when it writes rules implementing the law.
The law has other restrictions such as forbidding people from growing their own marijuana, dispensing it through licensed “alternate treatment centers,” and requiring designated caretakers who retrieve the drug on behalf of someone severely ill to undergo criminal background checks.
“It means a lot to my family whether I can go sleigh-riding or not, or even just a day at the beach,” said Chuck Kwiatkowski, a 38-year-old multiple sclerosis patient from Hazlet who uses the drug. “It’s a great thing to not feel like a criminal anymore.”
Opponents said it would send the wrong message to children and promote crime. Star Ledger.