At Long Last, New Jersey Chronic Pain Sufferers Can Use Medical Marijuana

The bill legalizing marijuana that former Governor John Corzine signed into law as he left office is now finally in effect in New Jersey.

As in other states which have legalized medical marijuana, New Jersey's law aims to alleviate the pain and suffering of people with various diseases and conditions. For example, marijuana has been shown effective in relieving the pain of Crohn's disease and the nausea associated with chemotherapy in cancer patients. HIV, multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy sufferers in New Jersey also are now able to obtain some relief through the use of medical marijuana. Other states allow for mental and psychological conditions such as anxiety disorders, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and ADHD, but New Jersey's list of debilitating illnesses is currently less expansive than in some other states.

Despite this more narrowed allowance, Governor Chris Christie debated implementing the law for over a year, as he worried that federal law enforcement agencies might prosecute state distributors. Gov. Christie debated even after President Obama stated that the U.S. Department of Justice would not attempt to circumvent state medical marijuana laws and that the DOJ had much higher priorities. Finally, in July the law was put into effect, and currently six New Jersey nonprofits are allowed to grow the plant for distribution to patients authorized to use the treatment by prescription.

Conflicting Laws

The potential prosecution of state-authorized marijuana distribution centers highlights the conflicting messages state and federal legislators are giving toward the use — medicinal and otherwise — for those who use marijuana. For example, a bipartisan bill was introduced into Congress to end the federal ban of marijuana for anyone, not just those in chronic pain. On the other hand, federal drug laws currently completely ban the use of cannabis, even for terminal cancer patients and others who could use marijuana to alleviate pain and chronic conditions, which is in direct conflict with some state laws.

If you have questions regarding the use of medical marijuana, or you are facing charges for marijuana possession, contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer to fully understand your rights under the new law.