Jersey Now 14th Medical Marijuana State
Law Establishes State-Regulated Distribution Program
Jersey became the 14th state to establish protections
for patients who use cannabis on the advice of their doctors.
The "New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana
Act" signed into law by Governor Jon Corzine shields
qualified patients from arrest and prosecution for possession
and transportation, and mandates distribution of medical
cannabis by state-regulated "Alternative Treatment
Centers." As the 11th most populous state in the
nation, New Jersey is the third largest state to pass
medical cannabis legislation, after California and Michigan.
passage of New Jersey's medical cannabis law is a victory
for commonsense health policies," said Caren Woodson,
ASA's government affairs director. "It's only a matter
of time before the federal government catches up."
The bill was passed by a 48-14 vote by the General Assembly
and a 25-13 vote by the State Senate after years of lobbying
by patients and advocates. New Jersey officials must now
develop regulations for administering the program that
will go into effect in six months. The law prohibits patients
from cultivating their own medicine, requiring them to
purchase their medicine from one of the six distribution
centers to be established by the state.
The number of patients who will qualify for access through
the state-run program is unclear, since lawmakers intentionally
excluded the primary condition for which patients use
cannabis: chronic pain. Among the qualifying conditions
for which a doctor may recommend cannabis are cancer,
HIV/AIDS, Lou Gehrig's disease, muscular dystrophy and
Following the signing of his state's medical cannabis
bill, U.S. Representative Donald Payne (NJ-10) added his
name to the list of co-sponsors on the federal Truth in
Trials bill, which would allow medical cannabis patients
who face federal marijuana charges that they were acting
in compliance with state law. Currently, federal rules
of evidence prevent cannabis patients from using any type
of medical defense.
The "New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana
Act" can be downloaded here.
to Consider Medical Cannabis Bill
Delegate Dan Morhaim announced at a January 26 press conference
that he will be introducing a bi-partisan bill to protect
the state's medical cannabis patients.
The bill would reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II drug
under state law and allow eligible patients to obtain
and possess medical cannabis when recommended by a physician.
Similar to New Jersey's recently enacted law, patients
would be required to purchase their medicine from designated
centers run and regulated by the state.
Morhaim estimates that Maryland could register 1,000 qualified
patients per month, if the bill is passed.
of Columbia Takes Up Implementation
cannabis patients in Washington, D.C. are edging closer
to legal protection, in the wake of a lifting of the Congressional
ban on implementing the medical cannabis initiative passed
overwhelmingly by city voters in 1998. City Councilmember
David Catania has introduced a bill, co-sponsored by nine
of the 13 council members, that would put Initiative 59
The council will consider regulations on how many dispensaries
to allow, whether they'll be nonprofit, for which conditions
patients can qualify, and rules for cultivation. Catania
has said he anticipates five to 10 nonprofit dispensaries
in the city, restricted to locations at least 1,000 feet
from schools, parks and other dispensaries.
A council spokesperson predicted the council will pass
the bill by late spring, and may be approved in Congress
by the end of summer.
Supreme Court Nixes Quantity Limits on Medical Marijuana
from arrest upheld for state-issued ID cardholders
In a unanimous ruling, the California Supreme Court said
lawmakers cannot impose limits on how much cannabis qualified
patients may possess or cultivate. The published decision
in People v. Kelly struck down plant and possession guidelines
established by the state legislature in 2003, declaring
the limits to be an unconstitutional change to the Compassionate
Use Act approved by voters in 1996. Under the ruling,
California patients are entitled to quantities consistent
with their reasonable personal use.
The court left intact the legislature's voluntary ID card
program, which provides protection from arrest and prosecution
for card-carrying patients who are within state or local
guidelines for personal-use quantities. Californians who
exceed those guidelines may still have to go to court
to prove their compliance with state law.
California Supreme Court did the right thing by abolishing
arbitrary limits on medical marijuana possession and cultivation,"
said Joe Elford, ASA Chief Counsel. "At the same
time, the court may have left too much discretion to law
enforcement. Qualified patients should not fear arrest
The ruling affirms the decision of an appellate court
to overturn the conviction of a southern California man,
Patrick Kelly, who uses cannabis to treat a number of
serious medical conditions, including hepatitis C, chronic
back pain, and cirrhosis. A jury had concluded that the
12 ounces of dried cannabis and 7 plants Kelly had at
his home exceeded the limits of 8 ounces and six mature
plants established by the legislature's 2003 Medical Marijuana
In an unusual twist, attorneys for both Kelly and the
State of California told the court that the legislative
limits on medical marijuana should be abolished as unconstitutional.
Both parties also opposed the appellate court's invalidation
of the entire statute, Health & Safety Code Section
11362.77, which protects ID cardholders from arrest and
prosecution if they are in compliance with local or state
guidelines. The state high court agreed, and reversed
the appellate decision on the ID card program.
The California Supreme Court decision can be downloaded
Court Requests More Briefs on Dispensary Bans
a critical case that addresses the right of medical cannabis
dispensaries to operate, a California appeals court has
asked for additional briefs. The case of Qualified
Patients Association v. City of Anaheim, brought by
attorney Anthony Curiale and argued at appeal by ASA Chief
Counsel Joe Elford, raises the question of whether the
legislature's 2003 Medical Marijuana Program Act preempts
municipalities from banning dispensaries. ASA argues that
it does, but the Court of Appeal for the Fourth Appellate
District has asked for additional arguments on the legislature's
intent, as the law specifies exemptions from statutes
that could be the basis for such bans. A favorable ruling
would mean legal challenges to any local ordinances that
ban collectives and cooperatives from dispensing cannabis
to qualified patients.
to Regulate Medical Cannabis Dispensaries
Restrictions on Locations May Be "Poison Pill"
The second largest city in the U.S. has adopted regulations
for the operation of medical cannabis dispensaries. After
more than two years of lobbying by ASA and other patient
advocates, the Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance
establishing rules for the operation of patient collectives
and cooperatives that dispense medical cannabis.
is a bittersweet victory for medical marijuana patients
in Los Angeles," said Don Duncan, who led the lobbying
effort as ASA's California director. "We've fought
hard for sound regulations, but this ordinance includes
"poison-pill" restrictions that threaten to
wipe out nearly all of the dispensaries in the city."
More than 500 medical cannabis dispensaries currently
serve Los Angelenos. The new regulations limit the number
of dispensaries that may operate in the city to 70, though
the 137 dispensaries that were registered with the city
two years ago, when the city council established an Interim
Control Ordinance, can apply to remain open.
Among the new rules with which dispensaries must comply
are restrictions on location. The ordinance establishes
buffer zones of 1,000 feet around schools, parks, and
other "sensitive use" locations, and prevents
any dispensaries from being located adjacent to residential
or mixed-use buildings.
"Dispensaries will be unable to locate in virtually
any of the commercial zones in the city," said ASA
spokesperson Kris Hermes. "They will be relegated
to remote industrial zones, making access unnecessarily
onerous for many patients."
The vast majority of registered dispensaries cannot comply
with the ordinance's proximity restrictions and may be
forced to move, but a concession won by ASA creates an
exception for operators who can demonstrate they have
been "good neighbors" in their current location.
Los Angeles joins more than 40 other cities and counties
in California that have adopted regulations for the distribution
of medical cannabis through patient collectives and cooperatives.
Affiliate Packs Sheriff Candidates Forum
At a recent forum, candidates for sheriff in Sacramento
County, California, faced questions on medical cannabis
from a host of patients and advocates organized by Crusaders
for Patients Rights (CPR), an ASA affiliate. The January
20 forum was sponsored by the League of Women Voters,
the Sacramento County Deputy Sheriffs' Association and
the Sacramento County Law Enforcement Managers' Association.
Prior to the forum, Lanette Davies of CPR urged members
at the organization's meeting to attend, which she then
followed up with an announcement of the forum on the ASA
Sacramento email list. The result was that of the 50 people
in attendance at the forum, a dozen were patients or advocates.
Questions for the candidates were selected by the League
of women Voters from cards submitted by attendees. Thanks
to the strong showing by CPR, 25-30 of the cards submitted
had questions about medical cannabis, with two being presented
to the candidates for sheriff.
Bret Daniels, a former sheriff's deputy, gave his full
support. Jim Cooper, a captain in the department who is
currently the mayor of Elk Grove, said he supports legitimate
patients but feels there is too much abuse. Scott Jones,
also a department captain, states he supports the law.
The three men are seeking to replace Sheriff John McGinness,
who is retiring after one term.
The forum has been broadcast twice on local cable channels.
ALERT: Stage a Medical Marijuana Week Event
Join ASA and activists across the country in staging an event for Medical
Marijuana Week. Every year, medical marijuana advocates use Medical Marijuana
Week to educate communities across the country about the importance of
safe access for patients. This year, Medical Marijuana Week runs from
Saturday, February 13, through Sunday, February 21.
For ideas big and small on what you can do, go to www.AmericansforSafeAccess.org/mmjweek.
Then let us know what kind of event you're planning, and we will e-mail
ASA activists in your community.