Reforming NJ’s Medical Marijuana Law

Two-year-old Vivian Wilson of Scotch Plains, NJ suffers from Dravet syndrome, a severe form of childhood epilepsy.  Last week her disease was at its worst: 300 myoclonic seizures every day for 4 days in-a-row.  This while cutting her two-year molars. 

Thankfully for patients like Vivian and her family, bipartisan help in on the way.  

S2842/A4241 “would require minors to get consent from only one doctor instead of three – the same as adults – and would allow an edible cannabis to be sold, which would be easier for a child to use than smoking.”  

The bill also would allow dispensaries to grow more than 3 strains of cannabis, as per New Jersey’s current law.  More strains would benefit all patients, especially children, because it would allow growers to cultivate more specialized medicines lower in psychoactive compounds in favor of other properties which are more illness-specific. 

The bill passed its final legislative hurdle this week in the NJ Assembly where a resounding vote (55 yeas,13 nays, 9 abstentions) sent the bill onto an uncertain future: Governor Chris Christie’s desk.  The Governor’s already on record saying he’s “not inclined” to allow patents like Vivian access to the state’s program. 

“I am not going to allow New Jersey to become a California or a Colorado where someone can fake a headache and get a bag of pot on every corner. So I’m very concerned, if we go down this slope of allowing minors to use this, where it ends.”

 It’s a jaw-droppingly insensitive metaphor considering Chris Christie’s equating a 2-year-old child (who had over a thousand seizures last week) to an adult “faking a headache” to fraudulently access New Jersey’s medical marijuana program.  And since there’s (still) exactly ONE place for qualified patients in New Jersey to access medical marijuana legally, Christie’s “every street corner” line is simply devoid of credibility.  

Vivian’s mother Meghan Wilson had this reply:  “Governor Christie, think about this story not as governor, but as a father of four.  What would you do if your child were stricken with a disease that did not respond to traditional medications?   Let your child die?  Or try an unconventional but very effective treatment?”  

The longest little Vivian has ever gone without ANY seizures is 2 months. It was the first 2 months of her life.

“Every time Vivian has a bad seizure — every 7-10 days —  we reset the clock,” Meghan Wilson mused, “and I say to myself ‘this time we will get to 2 months 1 day.'”

THE WINCE FACTOR

At first blush, the idea of a child, especially a two-year old, using marijuana makes us wince a little bit.  It’s not an uncommon response.  I mean, we wouldn’t exactly want our kids being exposed to radiation either.  BUT do we stop giving kids X-rays at the dentist? Or God forbid deprive childhood cancer patients access to radiotherapy?  It’s inconceivable. 

That’s why yesterday’s nearly veto-proof, bipartisan vote was so special for folks like Vivian Wilson and her mother.  Not only did the final tally give them hope, the vote was also a resounding statement from the Legislature.  So decisive was the final tally, that it’s actually 7 more YEA votes that the original medical marijuana law got back in 2009. 

Governor Christie has 44 days to act on the bill.   

 

Reforming NJ’s Medical Marijuana Law