Two Years Later, NJ Patients Ask: Where's My MMJ?

By Luke Walker 01/18/12

One chronically ill New Jersey patient tells The Fix why she's desperate for MMJ—it's been stalled by red tape for two years.

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A cartoonist's rendering of bed-ridden
Diane Riportella
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Two years today after former New Jersey governor Corzine signed the Compassionate Use Of Medical Marijuana Act into law, patients seeking medical marijuana in the Garden State are still deprived of legal access. It's been continually stalled by regulatory red tape and geographical opposition, leaving many chronically ill patients waiting. Diane Riportella, 55, from Atlantic City, is just one example. She has ALS/Lou Gehrig’s disease, a fatal, progressive and degenerative neurological disorder, with symptoms such as loss of motor function, violent muscle spasms and atrophy due to rapid muscle degeneration. Speaking with The Fix from her bed in the Egg Harbor Township Hospice, Ms. Riportella pleaded to opponents of MMJ dispensaries in New Jersey to show mercy to her and others like her.“Marijuana is very helpful with my anxiety, it gives me a sense of peace and relaxes my body. Nothing else works for me like marijuana,” she says. “It helps me to eat because I have no appetite, and it helps me sleep at night. It’s the best thing that I’ve used.” Ms. Riportella, who has difficulty speaking, managed to express her grievances with those who oppose medical marijuana: “I’m sick and tired of being denied access, they have these people...the same people turning down the dispensaries are the same people with liquor stores on every corner. It's very frustrating because it's hard to get marijuana and they want to deprive us.”

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