Update 6/25/2013: The New Jersey General Assembly approved changes to the state medical marijuana laws that will help severely sick children access beneficial medical cannabis.
A video still of Vivian Wilson from NBC New York.
The bill now heads to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has been reluctant in the past to implement state medical marijuana laws and has been a vocal critic of making medical cannabis available to children.
"I'm very concerned, if we go down this slope of allowing minors to use this, where does it end?" the governor said last month.
Megan Wilson, whose daughter Vivian suffers from thousands of seizures every month (see below), urged Christie to put his politics aside. ""I hope he can put on his Dad hat for a few minutes and read this with a human heart, and think about what he would do if he was in this situation," Wilson told NJ.com.
Another parent in a similar situation urged the governor to put himself in their shoes: "I hope Governor Christie. . . thinks of his children. If they were having seizures every day, he would vote yes," the parent said. "This is [my son's] whole future. The drugs have failed. There is nothing left. He really needs this."
Original article, 6/21/13: Though the medical marijuana program approved by New Jersey voters is only three years old and just now getting off the ground, many say it's time for some much-needed (and positive) changes. And thankfully, the legislature is listening.
Senate bill 2842, which passed yesterday on a 25-13 vote, and Assembly bill 4241 would make it easier for children suffering from certain debilitating conditions to have access to medical cannabis, allowing dispensaries to sell edible forms of cannabis, and broadening the spectrum of strains allowed from just three to as many as the dispensary can track down and grow.
New Jersey approved medical marijuana in 2010, and lawmakers at the time touted it as the strictest program in the country. Only a handful of dispensaries are allowed to open - and only one has managed to do that so far.
Also interesting: the state set limits on the number of strains as well as the potency. For a child to have access to medical cannabis, they had to be seen by both a psychiatrist and their regular pediatrician.
Assemblywoman Linda Stender says she sponsored the Assembly bill after hearing from the parents of sick children who can't access a plant, namely two-year-old Vivian Wilson suffers from severe epilepsy that causes her to suffer sever seizures that are painful to watch (see the video below).
Her parents, Megan and Brian, have reached their end with conventional treatments but see hope strains of cannabis that has been helping children in medical marijuana states like California and Colorado.But despite finding three doctors to sign off on it, there isn't a single psychiatrist who will do the same. Psychiatrists say that many of these children are too young and are still developing. Which is absurd considering the damage that the seizures are doing to the child in the first place.
That's bullshit, especially to parents like Jennie Stormes and her 14-year-old son who suffers from Dravet Syndrome - similar to the Colorado Springs girl we told you about last week.
"The additional doctor appointments for a child who has failed so many medications, brain surgery, and other treatments are cruel and the cost is burdensome for a single mother who is working more than one job without any child support," Stormes told the NJ Spotlight.
The bill would also increase the number of strains dispensaries are able to grow, allowing room for high-CBD strains to enter the pool of legal genetics in the Garden State. In addition, it gives the shops the ability to make edibles other than lozenges - which is currently the only form of edibles allowed. Parents say they need oils and tinctures for the medicine to be effective for their children.
The Assembly bill has passed a second reading 9 to 1, so it seems likely the measures will go ahead to the governor - who hasn't hinted either way what direction his office would take.
View more videos at: http://nbcnewyork.com.