Patients and Families Implore State Officials to Expedite Program and Provide Relief to Sick and Dying People</p>
Trenton—The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act was enacted on January 18, 2010. This important legislation will relieve the suffering of seriously ill New Jerseyans whose symptoms are not alleviated by currently available medications. On July 19, 2011 Governor Christie directed the health department to "move forward as expeditiously as possible" with the implementation of the state's program. However, two years later, not a single patient in the state has been issued a Medical Marijuana Program Registry ID card, nor has an Alternative Treatment Center opened its doors to provide safe and legal access to this much needed medicine.
Today, which marks the second anniversary of the enactment of the law, patients and their families are expressing disappointment and frustration regarding the delay in implementing New Jersey's medical marijuana program.
Elise Segal, of Wenonah in Gloucester County, who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, says, "I can't believe that it will be two years ago that I spoke at a statehouse press conference with my fellow patient advocates urging the legislature to pass the Compassionate Use Act. If someone told me then that I would still be fighting for the compassion seriously ill New Jerseyans deserve, I never would have believed them. It's appalling that after five years of intense advocacy before passage and another two years after enactment, we are still in the same horrible predicament because there has been no implementation of the bill."
Diane Riportella, of Egg Harbor: Atlantic County, who has ALS and is on hospice, says, "When I think back two years ago, to the day when I was able to sit in my wheelchair on the Senate and Assembly floors and watch the legislature pass the Compassionate Use Act, I'm overcome with emotion as I remember how happy and hopeful I was that day. During the two years since the bill's enactment, as I've been waiting for relief, I've almost died twice, I spend most of the time on my breathing machine unable to speak, and on days I can't access medical marijuana, I spend a good amount of time crying and my husband is forced to watch me suffer." Riportella says she wishes she could be in Trenton on the anniversary of the Compassionate Use Act enactment, but her deteriorating health makes that impossible. "It breaks my heart that I'm too sick to do anything, especially travel to Trenton on a day that's so important to me. But if I could, I would roll my scooter up to the Governor's Office on January 18th and ask him why New Jersey is the 15th state to approve access to medical marijuana, but I will probably die before I get legal access to my medicine?"