Update - 9/12/13: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie Tuesday signed a bill into law that makes it a little easier for parents to access medical cannabis for their sick children in that state. This is the second time this bill has made it's way to the governor's office, with Christie rejecting the first version in August because he said increased too much access.
"I'm pleased the legislature accepted my recommendations so that suffering children can get the treatment they need," Christie said in a statement. "I've said all along that protection of our children remains my utmost concern, and this new law will help sick kids access the program while also keeping in place appropriate safeguards. Parents, not government regulators, are best suited to decide how to care for their children, and this law advances that important principle."
Original story 9/10/13: The New Jersey House yesterday gave final approval to a bill that will
greatly slightly increase access to medical cannabis for minors in that state with approved conditions.
The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Chris Christie, who says he will (finally) give his approval. This after months of him holding lawmakers and patients in limbo while he decided whether or not to sign the original bill that would have truly increased access for sick kids.
The bill was originally proposed after parents Brian and Meghan Wilson had reached the end of their rope in trying to find treatments for their daughter, Vivian, who suffers from a rare disorder that causes her to have hundreds of violent seizures each month. Rep. Linda Stender, who sponsored the original bill, says the amended laws still offer some hope.
"For Vivian and many children like her, marijuana may be the only treatment that can provide life-changing relief," Stender said in a news release. "As a state, we should not stand in the way of that, and today's vote is definitely a step forward."
Currently, New Jersey law requires children to be seen by as many as three doctors and a child psychiatrist. New Jersey also limits the number of marijuana strains available to three (a sativa, an indica and a hybrid) and limits edibles to only lozenge form.
The proposed changes would require a child to have approval from a doctor and a psychiatrist. Originally that was reduced to only the approval of a physician, but Christie argued that was going too far and that the state was going "down the slippery slope of broadening a program and making it easier to get marijuana that wouldn't necessarily go to other people."
New Jersey dispensaries will also be able to sell more than three different strains of marijuana under the proposed new laws. Edibles would also be expanded to include other forms, though those would only be available to children.
The Wilsons both say that the bill is a step in the right direction. They had previously stated that they would be moving to Colorado if Christie had outright vetoed the bill. But according to an interview they did with CNN.com, they now plan on staying and seeing the program through.
"We are happy that this is finally being signed into law," Brian and Meghan Wilson said in a statement.
"Our next focus will be working ...to ensure that this law is properly regulated according to the true intent of the law so that Vivian and all of the other patients in New Jersey can finally start getting the type of medicine they need in the form they need."