Walk's aim is to legalize use of medical marijuana

May 19, 2007

Nirmal Mitra, Asbury Park Press (NJ)

SEASIDE HEIGHTS — A group of Libertarian Party members plans to set out today on a "Walk Across New Jersey" with a message for lawmakers: Legalize medical marijuana.

Leading the walk will be 55-year-old Jim Miller of Toms River, the party's candidate for state Senate from the 10th District. His wife Cheryl, a medical marijuana advocate, died June 7, 2003, after spending the last decade of her life telling people how marijuana relieved her multiple sclerosis spasticity and pain. Miller will be pushing his wife's wheelchair.

The group will start by holding its state meeting at 10 a.m. today at Captain Hooks at 1320 Boulevard and head out from there at noon. Participants will walk over the Route 37 bridge, break for lunch at the Pier One restaurant on Route 37, and then start the trek toward Trenton, which they plan to reach Tuesday.

Although Miller expects about 50 to 80 people, including many of the party's 24 candidates for the November election, to walk the first couple of miles, only four or five will accompany him all the way across the state, with two support vehicles following, he said.

They will walk along Route 37 to Route 9 to Freehold and then along Route 33 to Trenton. They plan to reach the steps of the statehouse by noon Tuesday and then deliver their petition to election officials, according to Lou Jasikoff, chairman of the party. They want to place on the November ballot a question of whether medical marijuana should be legalized.

Lawmakers are working on two medical marijuana bills, one in the state Senate and another in the Assembly, Miller said. Informational hearings on the Senate bill were held last June, and the legislation is stalled.

Although there is no organized campaign to make marijuana legal, there is public support for it, Miller said. A poll by the Drug Policy Alliance showed 86 percent of people surveyed supported legalizing marijuana for medical use and 11 percent opposed legalizing it, he said.

Miller said he decided to run for state Senate after the party agreed to join the push to legalize marijuana.

Libertarian Party candidates are "well-educated, intelligent and young and will bring a fresh face to New Jersey," Jasikoff said.

"We're very mainstream," he said. Democratic and Republican lawmakers "represent their parties and not the people," he said. "They have sold their souls to special interest groups."

Libertarians, on the other hand, are "regular working guys" who don't take money from such groups, he said. "We work 40-50 hours a week, and we're trying to find the energy and resources to make a difference."



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