Though children in his state languish in pain while a medicine remains just beyond their reach, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is holding back on signing the one bill that could help them out.
A video still of Vivian Wilson from NBC New York.
As we told you last week, current New Jersey medical marijuana laws require children under 18 to gain approval from three different doctors - including a psychiatrist - before they could access the medicine. Adults only have to have approval from on physician. The problem? Finding a child psychiatrists to sign off on it.
New Jersey legislators recognized the issue, in large part due to the story of two-year-old Vivian Wilson who suffers from a severe form of epilepsy that causes hundreds of seizures every week.
Every conventional treatment has failed to help the tiny girl, but her parents say they are encouraged by the efficacy of medical cannabis in children like their daughter. In other states without the strict regulations, they say children are leading more normal lives thanks to access to medical cannabis.
So legislators passed Senate Bill 2842 on June 25, which removed the extra provisions for children as well as allowed dispensaries to begin selling a broader array of strains. Currently New Jersey law limits dispensaries to only three specific strains.
Since that passage, the bill has been sitting on Christie's desk. He says he's reluctant to sign the bill because he doesn't want to be seen as granting access to marijuana to children. He also says that if parents can't get three docs to sign off on it, then maybe the kids shouldn't have it. He has also said he isn't rushing to sign the bill, noting that he has 45 days to think about it.
"And you know if folks can't get physicians to sign off on this, then that tells me something. This is supposed to be a medically based program -- that is there as a last resort -- not as a first resort," he told reporters at an unrelated event yesterday.
But what he seems to fail to recognize is that this is a last resort for many parents who have witnessed their children needlessly suffer. Brian Wilson, father of Vivian, told NJ.com that he was disappointed by the governor's comments.
"This isn't a political issue, it is a health issue," Wilson said. "I cannot understand why the governor, a member of the Republican Party, would willingly choose to put the government between a doctor and patient."
Wilson has urged supporters to visit www.lettersforvivian.org to send a letter to Christie.
Hopefully he listens to reason. And if he doesn't do that, hopefully he listens to the elected officials who passed the bill with overwhelming support at the suggestion of the people they were charged with representing.