Stender urges Christie to expand medical marijuana access

TRENTON – One of the lawmakers pushing an effort to expand medical marijuana in New Jersey reacted today to the news that one of the families at the heart of the matter is leaving the state.

Assemblywoman Linda Stender, (D-22), Scotch Plains, called on the governor to allow for expanded access to medical marijuana after it was reported that one of the families, located in her district, will move to Colorado in order to have access to the medicinal pot their daughter needs.

The Wilson family, whose daughter Vivian, suffers from a severe form of epilepsy, has been unable to obtain the type of medical marijuana needed for her condition.

The family said it would move to Colorado, where the medical pot is available in edible form.

“Sadly our program is not working, and as evidenced by the Wilson family’s decision to flee the state so their young daughter can have access to the medicine she needs, it is creating medical refugees,” Stender said in a release.

However, Gov. Chris Christie has been adamant about keeping a tight rein on medical marijuana in New Jersey. He has in the past talked about abuses out West in which people without a medical need still gain access to pot, and he has vowed that will not happen here.

Six medical pot dispensaries have been provided for in New Jersey’s legislation, and the state Health Department says three are operational, in Montclair, Egg Harbor and North Woodbridge.

Stender has a bill, A4537, that would allow N.J. residents who are permitted to use medical marijuana to possess the substance if it was legally obtained in another jurisdiction.

The Assembly passed the bill this month 50-23-7, largely along party lines, and it awaits action in the Senate.

Earlier this year, the governor did sign a bill that OK’d minors’ access to medical marijuana, and the bill did increase the type of strains that could be cultivated, but it included a measure that drew some parental criticism, a requirement that approval from a psychiatrist and pediatrician must be obtained. If either of the two already is registered with the program, no further approvals would be needed.

Some parents complained at the time that that provision essentially would be a roadblock because there are some medical professionals who simply will not OK the request for medical marijuana.

Stender urges Christie to expand medical marijuana access