Assembly concurs with CV on medical marijuana for minors bill

TRENTON – The Assembly concurred by a vote of 70-1-4 with the governor’s conditional veto of the medical marijuana for minors bill today.

Under S2842, as amended by Gov. Chris Christie, the limitations on the number of strains that can be grown would be lifted, and children would be allowed to consume it in edible form. 

However, a parent still must obtain approval of either a pediatrician or psychiatrist if both are registered with the program, and that will actually be difficult, Senate sponsor Sen. Joe Vitale said after it was CV’d last month.

Jennie Stormes, whose 14-year-old son, Jack, suffers from a rare form of epilepsy, had mixed feelings today.

“There is still a lot of work to be done,’’ she said today after the Assembly concurred with the CV, “but this means children can get the medication that they need.”

Access to the medical marijuana means that her son’s seizures will be less intense, and he will be able to stop taking some other medications, she said.

But others were critical of the CV.

“He made the underlying law so difficult to begin with,’’ Vitale said last month in reference to the original medical marijuana program, that parents will have trouble finding participating pediatricians.

“If he truly wants to help, he should have made it easier,” Vitale said.  Trust the licensed professionals, Vitale said: “I think they can handle it.’’

Parents of children who could benefit from this bill say that medical marijuana alleviates symptoms of minors suffering from seizures brought on by rare maladies that cannot otherwise be adequately treated.

Another lawmaker, Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, also expressed mixed feelings.

“The psychiatrist requirement is an unnecessary and unbeneficial step,” O’Scanlon said in a release issued after the session today. “I worked personally with the family of a little girl suffering from a potentially life threatening form of epilepsy. One of the only promising treatments for her disease was cannabidiol. Because of this experience I also know that there is a dearth of psychiatrists wiling to participate.”

In recognition that more work needs to be done, he said he wants to hear from psychiatrists willing to participate and expressed interest in compiling a list of such psychiatrists that parents could use.

Assembly concurs with CV on medical marijuana for minors bill