TRENTON, N.J. — The Assembly on Thursday passed legislation to allow qualified New Jersey residents with post-traumatic stress disorder to get medical marijuana for treatment.
The Democrat-led Assembly voted 55-14, with seven abstentions, sending the bill to the Senate for consideration.
Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who has been critical of marijuana legalization in other states, ignored advocates of the bill who asked him to sign the measure as he walked into the statehouse Thursday.
Jim Miller, the co-founder of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey and an organizer of a weekly pro-marijuana podcast on the statehouse steps, said he has asked the governor at least four times previously to support the measure, but Christie has never answered him.
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Miller says he supports the bill to help veterans who are increasingly using cannabis even though it remains illegal in most states and isn’t approved by the Department of Veterans Affairs because major studies have yet to show it is effective against PTSD.
“They shouldn’t have to fight their government for the inherent right to health,” Miller said.
The legislation approves the disorder for treatment with marijuana only if it’s not treatable with conventional therapy.
Marijuana is currently approved in New Jersey to treat multiple sclerosis, terminal cancer and muscular dystrophy, among other medical diseases. It’s also approved for seizures and glaucoma if those conditions are resistant to conventional treatment.
The U.S. Senate passed an amendment in November that would allow Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend medical marijuana to veterans in states where it’s legal. The proposal failed to pass the House.