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Senators back measure to decriminalize marijuana

Glenn Townes | 3/30/2015, 11:13 a.m.
Earlier this month three key senators—including Democrat Cory Booker--introduced legislation that would eliminate federal restrictions on the use of medical ...
Cory Booker

Earlier this month three key senators—including Democrat Cory Booker--introduced legislation that would eliminate federal restrictions on the use of medical marijuana in states like New Jersey where the use of weed—for medical use--is already legal.

The controversial piece of legislation was unveiled on the floor of the Senate a few weeks ago by Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky and Democrats Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. In its simplest form, the bill would eliminate the ambiguity and uncertainty surrounding the use of marijuana in states that allow it for medicinal purposes and not recreational use. Currently, twenty three states and the District of Columbia have laws that permit the use of medical marijuana. Both Gillibrand and Booker have long touted the use of medical marijuana in their states. “I've met with many families in our state who desperately need access to medical marijuana,” Gillibrand (D-NY) said in a media release. “These families would have to risk violating outdated federal laws just to access the care their doctors have prescribed.”

In New Jersey, Booker said a number of families with chronically ill family members have moved out of the Garden State because of the complex and strict laws surrounding the use of medical marijuana. He added that New Jersey could learn from states like Colorado and Washington that have already legalized the drug by taking it out of the hands of the drug underground and making it into a legal and revenue generating business. Gov. Chris Christie has steadfastly rejected the decriminalization of marijuana use and has threatened to veto any bill that crosses his desk and advocates the measure. “The legalization of marijuana in New Jersey will not happen under my watch,” Christie said during a recent town hall meeting in Freehold. There are currently three medical marijuana treatment centers, in Egg Harbor Township, Montclair and Woodbridge, with at least three more slated to open in by the end of the year. Approved patients with severe and debilitating illnesses such as cancer, HIV/AIDS and chronic pain, can qualify to receive a nominal amount of weed from a licensed physician at one of the state approved dispensaries.