NJ bill to legalize marijuana will get a hearing

May 09, 2006

, Associated Press

New Jersey would become the 12th state to legalize marijuana for people with debilitating medical conditions, under a bill slated to be discussed next month by state lawmakers.

Sen. Joseph Vitale, chairman of a Senate health panel, said he's scheduled a June 8 discussion to hear from experts on the bill proposed by Sen. Nicholas Scutari. Vitale said he supports the concept, but has questions.

"It's really an effort to provide some sort of relief for people and some compassion," said Vitale, D-Middlesex.

The legislation has long been proposed by Scutari, D-Union, but has not received a hearing.

Though 11 states allow medical marijuana, in June 2005 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the federal government can prosecute people who use marijuana no matter what a state law says.

Terrence P. Farley, an Ocean County assistant prosecutor and spokesman for two state anti-drug law enforcement groups, said the bill is a veiled attempt to legalize drugs.

"This is how they're trying to get marijuana legalized," said Farley, who also is director of the county anti-narcotics force.

The Assembly hasn't scheduled any hearings on the bill, but Gov. Corzine said last year that he would sign a medical marijuana bill into law.



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