New Jersey: Governor Agrees To Amend Aspects Of State's Medical Cannabis Program

Thursday, 22 August 2013

New Jersey: Governor Agrees To Amend Aspects Of State's Medical Cannabis Program

Trenton, NJ: Republican Gov. Chris Christie on Friday agreed to provisions modifying some of the rules governing the state's medical marijuana production and distribution program.

Governor Christie expressed conditional support for Senate Bill 2842. Specifically, he agreed to provisions amending the requirement that state-licensed medical cannabis producers and distributors be limited to providing patients with only three strains of the plant - a regulatory rule that has been in place since the program's inception some three years ago. Proponents of the rule change have argued that lifting the three-strain cap will foster the production and distribution of varieties of cannabis high in CBD (cannabidiol) content. Cannabidiol is a non-psychotropic cannabinoid that possesses a variety of therapeutic properties. However, it is typically present only at low levels in conventional strains of marijuana, which typically are bred to possess higher quantities of THC - the primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.

The Governor rejected language in the bill that sought to simplify access to medicinal cannabis for qualified patients under age 18. Present regulations require an adolescent to receive approval from as many as three health care professionals - a pediatrician, a psychiatrist, and a physician registered with the state's medical marijuana program - before he or she may be legally able to access cannabis therapy. Adults only need a single recommendation by a physician registered in the state's program in order to qualify for a recommendation. To date, only two pediatricians and only 18 psychiatrists participate in the state's medical cannabis program.

The Governor also rejected language allowing for the distribution of cannabis-infused edible products, instead arguing that such products ought to be limited only to those under the age of 18.

Governor Christie's conditional vetoes send the bill back to lawmakers for further action. On Monday, members of the state Senate voted 34-1 in favor of an amended version of SB 2842. Members of the Assembly have yet to take up the measure.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, or Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director, at (202) 483-5500.