New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has ordered a review of the state’s medical marijuana program, with view to expanding it and improving access to medicines.
In addition to only a relatively small number of conditions qualifying for the New Jersey program, there are just five dispensaries (called Alternative Treatment Centers – ATC’s) in the state – and there are more than 15,000 patients registered.
“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,” stated Governor Murphy. “And, doctors deserve the ability to provide their patients with access to medical marijuana free of stigmatization.”
A trigger for the announcement was the death of a 7-year-old boy in the state who passed away this week after a long battle of cancer – one that took up most of his life. During his illness, Jake Honig’s parents tried desperately to change NJ’s medical marijuana laws so their son, and others in similar situations, could more easily access cannabis medicines. Jake’s parents were present during the signing of Governor Murphy’s Executive Order.
The review won’t be a drawn-out affair – the New Jersey Department of Health and the Board of Medical Examiners will have just 60 days to complete the exercise, and will be required to also submit new proposed rules and regulations.
“For eight years, medical marijuana has been difficult to access in New Jersey. Today, we’re turning the page,” said the Governor.
Another issue to be addressed is the requirement for NJ doctors prescribing cannabis to be publicly registered, something that can be off-putting to some practitioners considering becoming prescribers.
While current laws may be dated, the state was certainly progressive in its original approach to medicinal cannabis. The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (CUMMA) was approved by the Legislature and enacted back in January 2010.
Currently, the maximum amount of cannabis allowed by law for registered patients to acquire is 2 ounces in a 30 day period.