The New Jersey State Senate voted Monday to amend the medical marijuana law that Chris Christie conditionally vetoed Friday. The revised measure allows marijuana to be distributed to ill children in edible form and permits growers to cultivate more than three strains.
The bill does not, however, ease the requirement that a pediatrician and psychiatrist must sign off before access is gained to the drug. Of the 20 states that allow medical marijuana, New Jersey is among the few that require additional hurdles for young patients.
The New Jersey Governor announced last week that he now supports amending the current medical marijuana bill to allow greater access for ill children. At present, a child has to see three different doctors before gaining access to medical marijuana. While the bill passed by the state legislature would lower hat requirement to one pediatrician, Governor Christie thinks that two doctors -- a pediatrician and a psychiatrist -- should play a role in the decision. Apparently, the Senate agrees.
Christie’s change of heart occurred after he spoke with the parents of two-year old Vivian Wilson, who suffers from Dravet Sydrome, a rare form of epilepsy difficult to treat with traditional antiepileptic drugs. Despite receiving pediatric approval for medical marijuana, Vivian has struggled to gain psychiatric clearance. Currently, even if the tot is approved, she wouldn't have access to the strains most effective in treating her condition, as New Jersey does not grow strains of marijuana high in the non-psychoactive cannabinoid CBD and low in THC.
So Christie has something right: the governor supports removing the arbitrary and irrational limit on the number of strains that the one -- yeah, there’s only one -- dispensary in New Jersey can sell. Right now, the dispensary can only sell three strains of bud and lozenges, leaving patients with particular cannabinoid needs no access to medicines that would actually help them.
The bill now heads back to the Assembly. It will become law if that chamber also approves the changes.