Regulated medicinal marijuana use is already legal in New Jersey, but a spirited debate has been underway recently about broadening existing rules a bit. The controversy took on greater significance this week after the father of a two-year child suffering from a form of epilepsy confronted Gov. Chris Christie (R), explaining that a specific edible marijuana strain would alleviate his daughter’s seizures, but it’s not currently legal under the state’s narrow rules.
The Democratic-controlled state legislature has already approved legislation to allow wider use of medicinal marijuana. The governor responded this afternoon, rejecting the bill but leaving the door open to progress.
Gov. Chris Christie has agreed to give chronically ill children easier access to medical marijuana. However, the governor conditionally vetoed a bill on the issue because it goes further than he was willing to go.
“As I have repeatedly noted, I believe that parents, and not government regulators, are best suited to decide how to care for their children,” Christie said in a statement. “Protection of our children remains my utmost concern, and my heart goes out to those children and their families who are suffering with serious illnesses. Today, I am making commonsense recommendations to this legislation to ensure sick children receive the treatment their parents prefer, while maintaining appropriate safeguards. I am calling on the Legislature to reconvene quickly and address these issues so that children in need can get the treatment they need.”
Reading the governor’s statement, one might get the impression that Christie supports the bill he just vetoed. The fact remains, however, that while the governor now backs some new expansion of medical marijuana access, he’s still insisting the state legislature change the reforms to meet his specific demands. In this case, as an AP report explained, Christie will accept production of ingestible forms of pot at state-approved dispensaries and to allow dispensaries to grow more than three strains of the drug, but in order for sick children to quality, they would need approval from a psychiatrist and a pediatrician, and possibly a third doctor if one of the other two is not registered as part of the state program.
It’s unclear how quickly the state legislature, which is not currently in session, will respond to the governor’s conditions. Look for more on this from Rachel on tonight’s show.