Around NJ: Medical Marijuana Goes to Court

June 10, 2006

Bob Groves, The Record (NJ)

Medical marijuana advocates have gone to court to force the state to help patients participate in research studies on the drug.

Monica Jelonnek, a Morristown woman who has multiple sclerosis, and the New Jersey chapter of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws, filed suit in Superior Court in Hackensack on Wednesday. They want a judge to order state health commissioner Fred Jacobs to appoint a state review board to approve patients for federally approved medical marijuana studies.

A 1981 state law calls for the appointment of such a review board, but it was never implemented.

"There are many patients, and the plaintiff, who would benefit from inclusion in federal studies" of the safety and effectiveness of medical marijuana, said Fred DiMaria of Lodi, an attorney and chairman of NORML-NJ.

Marijuana has been shown by various studies to alleviate symptoms of muscle spasticity in MS patients, the suit said. But it is illegal for a patient in New Jersey who otherwise qualifies for federal clinical trials of marijuana to possess the drug. A bill being considered in the legislature would legalize the drug for use by some patients.

Donna Leusner, a spokeswoman for Jacobs, said Friday the state health department does not comment on pending litigation.

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