NJ Inches Closer to Medical Marijuana for Minors [POLL/AUDIO]
While last week, Gov. Chris Christie conditionally vetoed a bill to allow minors to have access to medical marijuana, the full State Senate yesterday approved a bill that included the changes recommended by Christie.
The bill's sponsors aren't thrilled because they feel it's still far too difficult for eligible patients to get the drug.
The new legislation allows the distribution of medical marijuana in an edible form, which in some cases may be the most appropriate form for a young child to receive treatment, or other forms permitted by the Commissioner of Health and it removes restrictions on the number of strains of marijuana that can be cultivated by alternative treatment centers under the program.
"Our medical marijuana law was already the strictest in the nation," says State Sen. Nick Scutari. "The program has been made so restrictive that it has prevented eligible patients from obtaining the relief they are entitled to under the law."
In the original bill, Scutari hoped to bring minors under the same requirements as adults for participation in the medical marijuana program, except that a parent or guardian must have granted permission for the child's medical use of the drug. Now, a doctor who want to authorize medical marijuana for a minor still has get written confirmation from pediatrician and a psychiatrist that the patient would get therapeutic or palliative benefits from the medical use of marijuana.
"No one who is suffering with a painful and debilitating illness should be denied relief if it can be provided, and that is especially true for a young child," says bill co-sponsor, Sen. Joe Vitale . "While I believe far too many limitations still exist, these changes will help to remove some of the barriers faced by eligible patients."
The bill now goes to the Assembly for consideration.