The New Jersey Senate has caved in to Gov. Chris Christie’s demands, altering a medical marijuana bill that would have eased access for suffering children to make it more restrictive.
The 34 to 1 vote means that children will have to have two doctors signing off on a child’s recommendation for medical cannabis, one of which has to be a child psychiatrist. The new bill also expands the available forms of medicated edibles, but limits those new forms to children only – a baffling move to anyone who has researched medical cannabis for even five minutes online could tell you.
The bill will also end New Jersey’s law limiting the number of medical cannabis strains allowed in the state from three to an unlimited number. That is good news for patients in need of high-CBD strains that have been shown to help with pain and seizures.
The bill technically does make access for children somewhat easier by reducing the number of pediatricians required to one and sponsor Sen. Nicholas Scutari seems okay with the changes.
“The program has been made so restrictive that it has prevented eligible patients from obtaining the relief they are entitled to under the law,” Scutari told the Philadelphia Enquirer Monday.. “These commonsense changes are a small step toward ensuring that children who are suffering from a debilitating condition can get the compassionate care they deserve.”
But the one of the chief complaints of parents that led to the bill in the first place is that few, if any, child psychiatrists were willing to sign off on a medical cannabis recommendation. According to the Inquirer, two pediatricians and 18 psychiatrists are currently registered with the program.
The bill now heads to the House for consideration. Assuming the House doesn’t make any changes, the bill would become law as soon as it is passed.