Trenton, NJ: NORML New Jersey filed suit in Superior Court this week against the state Department of Health for failing to act on a 1981 state law that sought to make cannabis medically available to qualified patients. The dormant law, entitled the "Controlled Dangerous Substances Therapeutic Research Act," requires the New Jersey health department to appoint a review board to qualify patients in therapeutic research programs. No review board has ever been appointed.
"The CDSTRA is New Jersey's only recourse for those seriously ill New Jersey citizens who seek to legally alleviate their symptoms through inclusion in federally monitored marijuana studies," the mandamus suit states. "Without a ... review board to qualify New Jersey patients, ... New Jersey patients ... cannot gain legal access to medicinal marijuana in New Jersey, in clear contradiction to the policy stated in the CDSTRA."
The civil action was filed one day prior to Thursday's hearings before the New Jersey Senate Health and Human Services Committee regarding Senate Bill 88: "the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act." Among those scheduled to testify in favor of the measure are talk show host Montel Williams, who uses cannabis to treat Multiple Sclerosis, and NORML Advisory Board member John P. Morgan, co-author of the book Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts. NORML Senior Policy Analyst Paul Armentano submitted written testimony to the Committee.
If passed, Senate Bill 88 would protect qualified patients who use cannabis medicinally from arrest, prosecution, property forfeiture, and other state criminal penalties.
Various polls have reported that over 80 percent of New Jersey voters' support the proposed measure.
For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at (202) 483-5500 or visit the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey at: http://www.cmmnj.org/. Copies of Armentano's testimony to the New Jersey legislature are available online at: http://norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=6920