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NJ Lawmakers Hear Testimony On Recreational Marijuana Legislation

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The legal recreational use of marijuana was under discussion Monday by the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee. Governor Chris Christie is firmly against it, but a new governor will be in place next year.

The committee heard from a long list of experts and community leaders, including Doctor David Nathan, a Psychiatrist and founder of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation.

"Cannabis is less addictive than alcohol and tobacco, it doesn't make users violent and there are no cases of fatal cannabis overdose documented," Nathan said. "In short, from the medical standpoint, marijuana should never have been illegal for consenting adults."

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Robert Cresson, former head of the New Jersey Republican Committee, suffers from a debilitating pain syndrome, and had used opioids.

"They caused my liver to fail four times in five years," he said, "so don't tell me those drugs are harmless when taken as directed."

Cresson now uses cannabis for his pain, and says it saved his life.

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J.H. Barr, a long-time municipal prosecutor from North Jersey also testified. He said he used to be against legalizing cannabis, but changed his tune after prosecuting a young woman for one joint, in a case that cost a small fortune and destroyed the woman's life.

"I believe by legalizing and regulating it and discouraging, officially as official government policy, like we do with tobacco and alcohol, we will be far better off than the status quo," Barr told the committee.

Barr used the example of asking a high school student which was easier to get, a joint or a bottle of vodka.

"Overwhelmingly, those high school students will tell you it's easier to get a joint than it is to get a bottle of vodka," Barr said. "Why? Because they have to go into a store, show ID, there are cameras all over the place, it's very restrictive."

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