New Jersey State Assemblywoman Linda Stender and State Senator Nicholas Scutari have announced that they will file companion measures next week which would alter the state’s medical marijuana law, which is one of the strictest in the nation (currently only one dispensary is open in the entire state, which has a waiting list hundreds deep). In addition to legalizing marijuana food items, such as medicated brownies, the measure would ease restrictions on those under 18 who are attempting to become a patient.
Under current law, someone under 18, regardless of how dire their medical situation, needs to have approval from three different individuals before they can become a patient: A psychiatrist, a pediatrician and a physician. For parents attempting to register their children as a qualified medical marijuana patient, the problem often lies in getting a psychiatrist to sign off. One doctor, Anthony Anzalone of Rutherford, has been told by state Health Department to stop enrolling children as patients until more doctors are willing to do the same.
In addition, the measure would allow dispensaries to produce and sell a variety of marijuana food items, something that it currently illegal under state law, although lotions and lozenges are allowed.
The inspiration for the legislation was 2 year old Vivian Wilson, a child with Dravet syndrome, a rare and severe form of epilepsy that pharmaceutical medicine hasn’t been known to control, and which can lead to dozens of seizures a day. Vivian’s parents, while attempting to enroll her in the state’s medical marijuana program, found the requirements to be unreasonably difficult, indicating that other children who could benefit from medical cannabis may be having the same trouble The parents contacted their state’s elected officials, which led to Stender and Scutari announcing this new legislation.
“My grandchildren are this age,” stated Assemblywoman Stender, “The fact that a 2 year old would be seizing 15 times a day — you want to do whatever you can to help. She’s unable to access what could be potentially life changing for her.”
The measure will be formally introduced next week, and will be assigned to a committee in the following days.