Policy: Health Care

Advocates make push to legalize marijuana in New Jersey

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Associated Press,New Jersey,Health Care,Marijuana,Drug Legalization

TRENTON, N.J. — Dozens of activists and community members have gathered at the steps of the New Jersey Statehouse to show their support for legalizing marijuana.

Sunday's rally was among many held nationwide to mark the traditional pot holiday of April 20, a day for marijuana activists to defiantly light up to protest the drug being outlawed. The event in Trenton was organized by Ed Forchion, a pro-marijuana activist known as NJ Weedman.

Several speakers urged the crowd of about 150 people to push state and federal lawmakers to legalize or decriminalize marijuana. They also urged them to vote out those who oppose those ideas and criticized drug sentencing laws, which they claim unfairly target minorities.

"On this family day (of Easter), think of how many people are in a cage due to a plant," Forchion said, drawing loud applause from the crowd. His comments came after he led participants on a march through downtown Trenton that included a stop at the federal courthouse.

Supporters also called on Gov. Chris Christie to stop "interfering" with the state's medical marijuana program and instead do what he can to help patients.

"So many people are suffering needlessly" said Ken Wolski, director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana of New Jersey. He noted that research has found that various strains of marijuana help with different conditions and symptoms, such as controlling or easing nausea and pain.

Among those in attendance at the rally was Jawara McIntosh, the youngest son of noted Reggae musician and pro-marijuana activist Peter Tosh.

McIntosh, who performed his father's song "Legalize It," is awaiting trial on charges he possessed more than 25 pounds of marijuana. Authorities say the drugs were found following a June 2013 traffic stop.

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