In the U.S. state of New Jersey, ten thousand patients have joined its Medicinal Marijuana program since January this year.
More recently, an acceleration in registrations are a direct result of sweeping changes announced in late March by Governor Phil Murphy.
“The addition of 10,000 new patients since January demonstrates this Administration’s commitment to making the program more responsive to the needs of patients, physicians and dispensaries,” said the Governor.
Currently, a total of 25,000 patients are registered. In May, Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal reported 100 new patients were being added each day.
Commenting earlier this week, Dr. Elnahal said the state can’t rest on its laurels and more needed to be done.
“With the influx of new patients, New Jersey’s medicinal marijuana market needs more competition, choice and greater value – goals that we look forward to working with all our stakeholders to accomplish.”
Participation by health professionals is fairly solid, with around 700 of the 28,000 licensed physicians in the state registered to participate in the program. The number has grown significantly since May 1, when 600 were registered.
Rather than viewing medicinal marijuana as an independent or alternative therapy, Dr. Elnahal is encouraging medicos to “embrace medicinal marijuana as yet another therapeutic tool”. He appears to be a rather hands-on sort of fellow and will be visiting medical schools and hospitals throughout the state over the next couple of months this summer to explain the program.
The Commissioner is also investigating adding opioid use disorder to the list of qualifying conditions for the program. Like many U.S. states, prescription and non-prescription opioid abuse has wreaked havoc in New Jersey, claiming 2,200 lives through overdoses alone in 2016.
“More physicians should look to medicinal marijuana as a safe, effective treatment – and one that can help not only improve patients’ well-being but also combat the opioid crisis,” Commissioner Elnahal said.
Patients suffering opioid use disorder can already find a way into the program, with it covered under the condition “chronic pain related to musculoskeletal disorders”, which was added along with migraine, anxiety, chronic pain of visceral origin and Tourette’s Syndrome in March.
Further details New Jersey’s program can be viewed here.