The state of New Jersey is on the brink of becoming the fourteenth state in the United States to legalize the medical use of marijuana. A bill that is poised to alter the legal restrictions behind the use of marijuana has passed the committee stage, awaiting approval by the senate. The bill, S-119, entitled the “New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act” will seek to empower the department of health and senior services to alleviate pain and trauma for those suffering from terminal illness or are at the death’s door.
The essence behind this bill is not to legalize the indiscriminate use of marijuana in the state; rather it is about decency and empathy for people looking for self-esteem and reprieve after protracted spells of pain. Furthermore, the bill draws a distinction between recreational use and medical use, particularly on marijuana. The purpose of this political action paper is to carry out a research on a bill that is currently in the New Jersey legislature related to health care or nursing.
The selected bill is; S-119/A804, New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act. To this end, the paper will offer a comprehensive report regarding the pros and cons of the bill, the sponsors and party affiliations of the bill; identify its ramifications on health care or nursing profession in particular and other fields alike; carry out a literature review of the issues pertaining the bill, and offer a position, a supporting, opposing or a neutral one based on the weight of the issues discussed in the literature.
A well prepared reference page will be provided at the very last page of the paper based on APA guidelines. • Rationale: The reasons for selecting this bill are grounded on the potential legal controversies that it will elicit upon its approval (hopefully), based on the existing legal structures that govern the use, possession, trade, or cultivation of marijuana. Perhaps this question would drive the point home – how do you go ahead and legalize the use of marijuana for some people, while it is illegal to do so for everyone else?
First and foremost, it should be noted that New Jersey is among those states that have remained in the right course of the war against the use of prohibited drugs, by literally crafting some of the toughest anti-drugs laws over the years. This bill is controversial and interesting given that it will ‘legalize’ the use of marijuana, albeit on MEDICAL use ONLY, yet, medical marijuana remains a contested issue not only in the United States but also the world over.
Furthermore, medical use of marijuana has a long history in many cultures; ironically it is against the law in far many quarters to use it, even in the United States, a country that holds the patent for medical marijuana through its Health and Human Services Division. For instance, according to the court decision in Gonzales v. Raich [545 U. S. 1, 12(2005)], the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution empowers the federal government to place a blanket ban on the use of marijuana: medicinal use included.
Moreover, the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not recognize medical marijuana for any form of treatment in the U. S. [Inter-Agency Advisory Regarding Claims that Smoked Marijuana is a Medicine, 2006] As a registered nurse, I could not have failed to select this bill given that its outcomes will impact the nursing profession. In fact the timing of this bill is also phenomenal, given that a number of states have been wrestling with the medical marijuana legislation for some time now.
Apparently, not many states have been successful on arriving at a consensus to legalize medical marijuana as a result of issues regarding controls: vetting of medical practitioners qualified to administer the medical marijuana treatments or the requirements for patients to qualify for the medical marijuana treatment. • Report (Summary) of the Bill The S – 199/A804, New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act is sponsored by two senators: Sen. Nicholas P.
Scutari (D – Union) and Sen. Jim Whelan (D – Atlantic), aimed at reducing extreme suffering among the patients who live with debilitating medical conditions. It is based on the findings of modern medical research which has indicated that marijuana can be beneficially utilized as a medical substance for alleviating pain and other symptoms associated with certain debilitating medical conditions. [National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine, 1999] Again, based on data from the U. S.
Sentencing Commission and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 99 out of 100 marijuana arrests in the country are made under state law and not federal law, and therefore a change of New jersey state law would end any arrests on the many who are seriously ill and who are in need medical marijuana as the only remaining medical option. And that, New Jersey is not the first state to legislate on medical marijuana, other states already done so: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, and Montana.
[Medical Marijuana, n. d. ] According to the bill debilitating medical conditions that warrant prescription of medical marijuana would include: cancer, glaucoma, amyotropic lateral sclerosis, HIV and AIDS, and other debilitating medical conditions that produces, wasting syndrome, severe or chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures, severe and persistent muscle spasms. The bill also empowers the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services to keep a constant review of the number of medical conditions and add others as it deems fit.
The bill would authorize the Department of Health and Senior Services to be the sole issuing authority of registry identification cards to qualifying patients, NB: diagnosis would only be performed by licensed physicians with whom the patients have an existing relationship, and who are considered as having debilitating medical condition to use medical marijuana. The registry card would contain the patients name, address and date of birth, the date of issuance and expiry date, photo identification of the card holder, and other information the Commissioner for Heath would deem useful.
A patient in possession of the registry card would be arrested, prosecution or penalized by the state or local authorities for use of the medical marijuana. Only the registered patient would be allowed to retrieve the drug from the grower, in the event of the patient being in a position not to do so, then a courier could be contracted to deliver the drugs to the patients home. Patients are not allowed to take more than an ounce in a month. No one will be allowed to grow their own marijuana.
The bill would allow for establishment, registration and administration of alternative treatment centers, entities, which would acquire, possess, cultivate, manufacture, deliver or dispense marijuana or related services and educational materials to registered patients or their registered primary care givers. Basically, the purpose of the bill is to protect from arrest, prosecution, property forfeiture, and criminal and other penalties, those patients who use medical marijuana to alleviate suffering from debilitating medical conditions, as well as their primary caregivers and physicians.
In a nutshell, there is a distinction between medical and non-medical uses of marijuana. In fact, it would bar patients under influence of medical marijuana from operating a motor vehicle, aircraft, train, motorboat or heavy equipment. It would also prohibit the smoking of marijuana in a public place, school grounds, correctional facilities, school bus or other forms of transportation.