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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Miss New Jersey Backs Medical Marijuana

Former Miss New Jersey makes marijuana her platform
By BEN LEACH Staff Writer, 609-272-7261
Published: Friday, April 17, 2009

'Marijuana could be a miracle drug for a lot of people,' says 2006 Miss New Jersey Georgine DiMaria.

A former Miss New Jersey has put down her tiara and is ready to fight for the legalization of medical marijuana.

Georgine DiMaria, 24, said as a child her asthma was so severe that it left her bedridden, forcing her to be homeschooled. “When you can’t breathe, nothing else matters,” she said.

When DiMaria learned that her uncle in South Carolina had used marijuana as part of his treatment for cancer, DiMaria investigated it herself. It helped her immensely, she said. Because of law enforcement taken against people that have used marijuana for medicinal purposes, DiMaria would not say when she used marijuana or how she obtained it, but she did say it was medically beneficial to her.

DiMaria also said she kept her usage under wraps while serving as Miss New Jersey, due to the controversy surrounding the drug and its potential to be abused.

DiMaria became Miss New Jersey pageant and competed in the Miss America pageant in 2006. Since then, she has served as a national spokeswoman for the American Lung Association. DiMaria emphasized that she does not condone smoking.

In February, the New Jersey state Senate approved a bill that would legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes. It awaits approval in the Assembly and from Gov. Jon S. Corzine.

State Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, said Friday in a phone interview that he voted in favor of the bill after his constituents showed an overwhelming amount of support for the bill.

Van Drew said he believes medical marijuana should be available to those who need it, but he’s concerned about a portion of the bill that would allow patients to grow as many as six marijuana plants of their own.

“If you’re growing plants, how can you tell which ones are being used for a medical need?” Van Drew asked.

Van Drew said he would prefer patients buy their medical marijuana at certified locations, a sort of pharmacy that would dispense it. The senator noted California has a similar program, but its dispensiaries have struggled to stay open: Federal Drug Enforcement Administration kept raiding them to prevent illegal marijuana trafficking.

However, in March, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said federal agents will now target distributors only when they violate both federal and state laws — meaning, those in compliance with California law will no longer be raided.

To date, 13 states have approved the medical use of marijuana.

“I’m hoping that by the time (the bill) is going through the Assembly, maybe more will happen at the federal level,” Van Drew said.

For DiMaria, the goal is to make sure government at all levels does not deny access to a drug that could help so many with medical conditions.

“Marijuana could be a miracle drug for a lot of people,” DiMaria said.

Art McMaster, president and CEO of the Miss America Organization, could not be reached Friday for a comment.

E-mail Ben Leach:


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"I, like the arch-fiend, bore a hell within me, and finding myself unsympathized with, wished to tear up the trees, spread havoc and destruction around me, and then to have sat down and enjoyed the ruin." --Mary Shelley, from Frankenstein