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NJ moves pro-marijuana bill: UPDATE

The New Jersey Assembly's Health and Senior Services Committee voted an amended version of medical-marijuana Assembly Bill 804 to a future vote in the state House by an 8-1 margin.

The New Jersey Assembly's Health and Senior Services Committee voted 8-1 to send an amended version of medical-marijuana Assembly Bill 804 for a future vote by the full House. The law would allow the state health department to allow cancer, AIDS, glaucoma, and multiple sclerosis patients, among others, to smoke pot for pain relief if a doctor agrees, according to a statement by Roseanne Scotti, head of Drug Policy New Jersey.

Wider marijuana sales are backed by some healthcare and hospice providers and by the state farm bureau, among others. Sponsors include state Rep. Reed Gusciora, D-Mercer, and nine North Jersey colleagues representing districts around Newark and Paterson. State Rep. Mary Angelini, R-Monmouth, cast the lone No vote today, while two other Republicans abstained, said Meaghan Johnson, a lobbyist with Scotti's pro-marijuana group.

ADD: Johnson kindly filled me in on the scene in Trenton today:  "The overwhelmingly presence in the room were seriously ill patients and their family members all in support of the bill." (That's classic political theater: The reps had to look like they hate sick people and enjoy pain, in order to vote No.)

"The bill was also supported the New Jersey State Nurses Association; the New Jersey Academy of Family Physicians; the New Jersey Hospice and Palliative Care Organization; the New Jersey League for Nursing; the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Southern NJ and Northern NJ chapters; Drug Policy Alliance; and the American Civil Liberties Union.

"The bill was opposed by the Drug Free Schools Coalition." Also, "there were three uniformed officers present testifying" against the bill, one representing the FOP.