Earlier today New Jersey Governor Chris Christie agreed to sign a bill that expands options for medical cannabis patients, including allowing children to access medicinal marijuana, only if certain changes are made.
Gov Christie told the New Jersey Legislature that he’d approve the bill if it specifies that edible cannabis products would only be available to minors, not to patients of all ages. Additionally, Christie insists the bill require the approval of both a physician and a psychiatrist to qualify children for medical pot. As it is currently written, the bill requires only a doctor’s approval to qualify minors for the program.
Christie did not call for a change to the provision in the bill that lifts the limit marijuana strains a dispensary can cultivate. Currently, dispensaries are allowed to grow three different strains. If the bill is passed, more strains can be grown – including high CBD varieties – increasing options for patients. The bill would also have added edibles as an option to patients, however, in order to get the governor’s signature, edibles must be limited to minors only.
The New Jersey Legislature passed the bill, S2842, in late June, but Christie refused to indicate whether he’d sign it into law for over six weeks – an agonizing wait for many parents.
New Jersey lawmakers were motivated to pass S2842 to aid young Vivian Wilson, a two-year-old child with a particularly serious form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome. The illness is resistant to most pharmaceutical medication. However, Vivian’s parents are hopeful that marijuana will improve her condition, as pot, particularly high-CBD strains, has helped other patients with Dravet syndrome.
Vivian's father Brian Wilson and members of the Wilson family actually confronted Christie at a campaign stop the Governor was making at a Scotch Plains diner on Wednesday.
It appears Gov Christie did take Mr. Wilson's impassioned plea seriously. Wilson told the governor, “Please don't let my daughter die."
The Legislature could vote on a new version of the bill as early as Monday during their next session. State Senator Joseph Vitale wasn’t pleased with Christie’s call for changes in the bill, but appears willing to compromise. “The last thing we want is to delay it for the kids, so we want to pass it as soon as possible.”