Most of New Jersey's state legislators trust parents to know and do the right thing when it comes to their children and medicinal marijuana, but does Governor Chris Christie? On Monday, June 24, the New Jersey Assembly passed SB 2842, which would grant kids easier and less costly access to medical pot; the State Senate had earlier passed the bill (which their legislative chamber originally sponsored).
The new bill would amend the current New Jersey medical pot law (enacted in 2010) by cutting the number of physicians required in order to approve a minor for medical pot from three to one, as well as removing the mandate that one of those doctors be a psychiatrist. Also, children would be permitted to consume so-called "medibles" -- medical pot in edible form, which is presently banned entirely by the New Jersey law, aside from lozenges. Finally, the bill allows for more than three strains of medicinal marijuana to be cultivated in the state, a significant alteration in the law because of the varied healing benefits of sativas as opposed to indicas, especially those with a higher percentage of non-psychoactive, but medically crucial cannabidiol (CBD), the key cannabinoid in combating epilepsy.
New Jersey lawmakers were motivated to pass the bill because of the plight of two-year old Vivian Wilson of Scotch Plains, who suffers from the rare epileptic disorder Dravet Syndrome, which causes multiple seizures that are typically resistant to the majority of antiepileptic medications. In her short life, Vivian has been hospitalized 20 times and can only say three words due to her seizures and the medication she takes.
Despite Vivian having received a medical marijuana card in February, her parents have been unable to receive her psychiatric approval. Furthermore, the particular strain that would be most effective in treating Dravet's is presently not permitted to be grown in New Jersey.
Unfortunately, Gov. Christie has indicated he will not sign SB 2842, telling the Star-Ledger in May: "I'm very concerned, if we go down this slope of allowing minors to use [medical pot], where does it end?"
Hopefully, at the the same location where ignorance dies.