By Dari Kotzker
The medical marijuana bill allows dispensaries to grow and sell more than three varieties of pot and to provide an edible form to children who suffer from severe epilepsy. The sponsors say they have some concerns with the governor’s version, even though it passed today.
“On the one hand, children now will have access to medical marijuana and the miracle is if you have epileptic seizures you could benefit from it, and you could benefit from edibles. But a senior who’s undergoing chemotherapy, 70 years old, may not ever smoke in their life, they will not be allowed to have edible marijuana under the governor’s conditional veto,” Assemblyman Reed Gusciora said.
“The fact that a psychiatrist is going to require really defies logic in my opinion. If your child has some serious, terrible disease, it would make more sense to me that the specialist connected to that disease should have been the one to be involved,” said Assemblywoman Linda Stender.
Jennie Storme’s 14-year-old son will benefit from the edible form of marijuana, but he will age out in four years.
“A lot needs to be changed, but this is a good start,” Storme said. “Once you’re 18, you’re technically an adult so what happens at the time? My son has the mental capacity of a 5-year-old. Do you really want a 5-year-old smoking? He doesn’t understand it.”
Assemblyman Scott Rumana is the only lawmaker who voted against the bill.
“I think there hopefully will be ways to find maybe the chemical makeup within let’s say marijuana that can be used in a safer way and it doesn’t continue to spread drug use in our society,” Rumana said.
None of the bills were debated today, and all passed by a large margin. They included a gun bill requiring state authorities to report certain firearms to the federal government, a home invasion bill increasing penalties for offenders and the Economic Opportunity Act, which consolidates five of New Jersey’s financial incentive programs for business development into two. Proponents say this move will help make the state more business-friendly. Although it was approved, six legislators voted no. One would rather preserve open space than develop it.
“Incentives to move forward with jobs in areas that should be redeveloped like the cities, I’m all for it. But if you’re a developer and have a choice between Chester and Paterson, I’d rather them choose Paterson and these incentives will make that choice not as clear,” Assemblyman John McKeon said.
The governor’s office says Christie will not sign the medical marijuana bill today, but will act on it quickly. The sponsors of the bill say they plan to introduce new legislation soon to allow adults to receive edible forms of marijuana.