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New Jersey Just Approved Medical Marijuana Program Expansion

New Jersey just approved medical marijuana program expansion, which includes more qualifying conditions among other perks.

A.J. Herrington

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New Jersey Just Approved Medical Marijuana Program Expansion

New Jersey just approved medical marijuana program expansion in the state, Gov. Phil Murphy announced at a press conference today. The governor called for a review of the state’s medical marijuana program in January when he issued Executive Order 6. He asked that regulators submit proposed changes to improve the plan for patients within 60 days.

“We cannot turn a deaf ear to our veterans, the families of children facing terminal illness, or to any of the other countless New Jerseyans who only wish to be treated like people, and not criminals,” the governor told reporters at a press conference in January announcing that order.

The Expansion

The governor listed several changes that will make medicinal cannabis available to more patients during today’s announcement, local media reported.

“We are changing the restrictive culture of our medical marijuana program to make it more patient-friendly,” Murphy said. “We are adding five new categories of medical conditions, reducing patient and caregiver fees, and recommending changes in law so patients will be able to obtain the amount of product that they need.”

New Jersey’s medical marijuana law limits eligibility for the program to those patients with one or more specific medical conditions. The governor’s plan adds anxiety, Tourette’s syndrome, migraine headaches and two types of chronic pain to the list.

The state also requires patients participating in the program to pay registration fees every two years. The governor’s action will reduce those charges from $200 to $100. Veterans and senior citizens are now eligible for a reduced registration charge of $20.

Gov. Murphy also proposed increasing the amount of medical marijuana a patient may obtain each month to four ounces. Hospice patients are eligible for an unlimited supply under the plan. The governor also suggested allowing adult patients access to edible cannabis products.

The state legislature, however, will have to approve some of the governor’s new proposals. One of those would permit home delivery of cannabis to patients.

The governor acknowledged that the improvements won’t take effect right away, “but we are committed to getting it done for all New Jersey residents who can be helped by access to medical marijuana,” he said.

Doctors Support Gov. Murphy’s Plan

Shereef Elnahal is Commissioner of the state Department of Health. He recommended more than 20 changes to the state’s medical marijuana program in the report submitted to the governor. He said that he made the recommendations after consulting with patients and other relevant parties.

“As a physician, I have seen the therapeutic benefits of marijuana for patients with cancer and other difficult conditions,” Elnahal said. “These recommendations are informed by discussions with patients and their families, advocates, dispensary owners, clinicians.”

Elnahal also said that the “benefit from this effective treatment option” will be available to many more patients with the proposed changes.

Final Hit: New Jersey Just Approved Medical Marijuana Program Expansion

Former Governor Jon Corzine signed New Jersey’s medical marijuana program into law during his last day of office in 2010. More than 18,000 patients and 536 doctors have registered to participate. Advocates say those numbers are low for a state the size of New Jersey.

This year Gov. Murphy replaced Chris Christie, who was vehemently against all forms of legal cannabis. Murphy pledged to reform state marijuana policy while campaigning for office in 2016.

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