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[UPDATE! Earlier today, the New Jersey Assembly decided in favor of Assembly Concurrent Resolution 151 by a vote of 48 to 22. Unfortunately, Senate lawmakers did not act of Senate Concurrent Resolution 130, instead postponing a vote until at least December 9, 2010.

This means that the DHSS’s (Dept. of Health & Senior Services) previously scheduled hearing for public input on the regulations will still take place as planned on Monday, December 6, 2010. DHSS’ press release regarding this hearing is below.

“The Department will hold a public hearing on the proposed new rules between 10:00 A.M. and 12:00 P.M. on December 6, 2010 at the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, First Floor Auditorium, Health and Agriculture Building, 369 South Warren Street (at Market Street), Trenton, New Jersey 08608.

The public has until January 14, 2011, to comment on the proposal. Persons wishing to comment on the proposal must submit their comments in writing by regular mail to Ruth Charbonneau, Director, Office of Legal and Regulatory Affairs, Office of the Commissioner, NJ Department of Health and Senior Services, P O Box 360, Trenton, NJ 08625-0360. Written comments must be postmarked on or before January 14, 2011, which is the close of the 60-day public comment period. The Department will not accept telefacsimiles or electronic mail messages as official comments on the notice of proposal.”]

New Jersey Senators are scheduled to vote this Monday, November 22, on a resolution to compel state health officials to revise proposed regulations for the state’s nascent medical cannabis program. Please contact your state Senator and urge them to vote ‘yes’ on SCR 130.

Last month, New Jersey Department of Health officials released onerous draft regulations regarding the implementation of the state’s Compassionate Medical Marijuana Act, which was initially signed into law in January. The proposed rules violate the intent of the law by limiting the manufacture of medical cannabis to two licensed facilities, restricting the percentage of THC that may be present in the plant to no more than ten percent, and limiting the varieties of legally available cannabis to no more than three strains. They further demand that doctors who authorize their patients to use marijuana must “make reasonable efforts” at least every three months to wean them off the drug — a requirement that presently exists for no other controlled therapeutic substance.

Several patient advocacy groups, including New Jersey NORML and the Coalition for Medical Marijuana — New Jersey, and lawmakers have criticized the proposed program as being unduly restrictive, and “not consistent with the intent of the legislature.” Various editorial boards, such as the New Jersey Star Ledger and the Asbury Park Press, have also opined against the proposed regulations.

The Senate and Assembly resolutions, if approved by both chambers, would give state health officials 30 days to revise these unduly burdensome regulations.

If you live in the Garden State, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action’ Center, and tell your member of the Assembly and Senate to affirm these votes by going here.

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