New Jersey Lawmakers Pass Bill to Allow Easier Access to Medical Marijuana

New Jersey Lawmakers Pass Bill to Allow Easier Access to Medical Marijuana

TRENTON, NJ — The New Jersey Assembly passed a bill Monday that would give children with certain medical conditions easier access to medical marijuana.

The Assembly voted 55-13 to approve the bill, which was approved by the Senate last week and will now go to the desk of Gov. Chris Christie for final approval.

If signed into law by Gov. Christie, Senate Bill 2842, would eliminate the need for written consent from a pediatrician and a psychiatrist for juveniles to be eligible.

The bill also would allow dispensaries to grow more than three strains of marijuana, and to sell it in edible form — conditions current state rules forbid, aside from the sale of lozenges.

Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-Union) sponsored the bill on behalf of a two year old Scotch Plains girl with severe epilepsy, whose parents had not been able to find a psychiatrist to sign a medical marijuana consent form.

“I sympathize fully with her parents’ efforts to provide her with as much comfort and relief as possible. That was intended to be the essence of our Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana law,” Stender said in a statement after the vote. “This measure will help ensure that New Jersey residents who are suffering with severe illnesses, regardless of age, are not prevented from accessing medicine the law was intended to provide. This is the compassionate thing to do and the right thing to do.”

New Jersey’s medical marijuana program, signed into law in 2010, has gotten off to a slow start. Just one dispensary is open and a second was issued a state growing permit earlier this month but is not expected to open until September.

The state’s proposed budget would double the funding for the program to allow for more money to be available for the creation of more treatment centers.