Press Release  | 04/03/2007

New Mexico Becomes 12th State to Allow Access to Medical Marijuana

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New Jersey Legislators and Advocates Applaud Governor Richardson for Signing Legislation; Hopeful Momentum Will Help Pass Compassionate Use Legislation to Provide Relief for the Seriously Ill in New Jersey

Trenton -- New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson signed a medical marijuana bill into law yesterday, making New Mexico the twelfth state to allow access to medical marijuana. The new law will allow qualified patients suffering from certain illnesses, such as cancer, HIV/AIDS and epilepsy, to use medical marijuana for relief from terrible symptoms such as pain, nausea, muscle spasms, loss of appetite and wasting.

New Jersey advocates are hopeful that the passage of the New Mexico legislation will add to the momentum to pass the "New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act," currently pending before the state legislature, which would benefit New Jersey's seriously ill.

"By signing this legislation, Gov. Richardson is showing his compassion for seriously ill people, and he is also reflecting the will of the majority of New Mexicans and the American people," said Roseanne Scotti, director of the Drug Policy Alliance New Jersey. "For the sake of our most vulnerable, our sick and dying patients struggling for relief, it is time for New Jersey to join the list of leaders on the issue of compassionate use of medical marijuana."

Senate Bill 88, sponsored by Senator Nicholas P. Scutari, and Assembly Bill 933, sponsored by Assemblymen Reed Gusciora, Michael Patrick Carroll and Assemblywoman Joan M. Voss, would allow seriously ill patients in New Jersey access to medical marijuana with a doctor's recommendation. Patients would register with the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services and receive registration cards indicating that they are legally allowed to use medical marijuana.

On June 8, 2006, the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee held an informational hearing on Senate Bill 88. Television personality Montel Williams, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, appeared alongside other advocates of medical marijuana to testify before the committee in support of the "Compassionate Use" legislation. A poll released at the same time, conducted by the polling company, inc., found that 86 percent of New Jerseyans support medical marijuana.

New Jersey legislative sponsors of the Compassionate Use Act commended Gov. Richardson for signing the New Mexico bill. "I applaud Gov. Richardson and the New Mexico legislature for their actions in opening this avenue of relief to chronically and terminally ill patients," said Senator Nicholas P. Scutari, D-District 22. "With each new state that adopts a safe and sensible medical marijuana program, the case for passing S-88 here in New Jersey grows even stronger."

"The legalization of medicinal marijuana in New Mexico is another milestone for this important legislation," stated Gusciora. "Gov. Richardson's signing of this law shows that the care of individuals with severe illnesses transcends political considerations and is an effort to help alleviate patient suffering."

Don McGrath, whose son--a cancer patient who suffered from wasting syndrome--found medical marijuana drastically improved his quality of life during the end of his battle, was delighted that Gov. Richardson had signed the legislation in New Mexico and is eager to see similar access to medical marijuana approved in New Jersey. "It is wonderful that Gov. Richardson has ensured that the sick and dying of New Mexico have another option in seeking relief from debilitating medical conditions. Compassion and common sense dictate that those in New Jersey should not have to wait any longer for the same relief. Doctors should be allowed to recommend, and patients be allowed to access, the medicine best able to relieve suffering and improve quality of life."

Supporters of the Compassionate Use legislation include the New Jersey State Nurses Association, the New Jersey Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, the New Jersey Academy of Family Physicians, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, and the Drug Policy Alliance New Jersey. At the New Jersey Nursing Convention last week, 173 nurses and nursing students signed a petition in support of Senate Bill 88 and Assembly Bill 933, which would allow seriously ill patients access to medical marijuana with a doctor's recommendation.

Roseanne Scotti at 609-610-8243 or Tony Newman at 646-335-5384

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