One New Jersey family is depending on Gov. Chris Christie to help their daughter get the treatment she needs.
Two-year-old Vivian Wilson suffers from a rare genetic disorder known as Dravet Syndrome, a debilitating condition that her family says causes her to have an average of 15 seizures per day. Dravet Syndrome is one of several forms of severe childhood epilepsy that research shows is treatable with medical marijuana.
But not just any marijuana treats Vivian's symptoms—the strain the toddler needs contains more non-psychoactive agents. And though Vivian succeeded in meeting the state requirements to enroll in the state's medical marijuana program, a line in the 2009 New Jersey medical marijuana bill only allows dispensaries to carry three strains of cannabis, not including the prescription most effective for treating her seizures.
However that may soon change after Democrats in the New Jersey State Legislature pushed through a bill that would amend the state's medical marijuana law. The bill reduces the number of physicians required to approve medical marijuana for a minor from three to one, removes the three-strain limit on marijuana dispensaries, and allows the sale of edible or topical marijuana.
The bill now sits on Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s desk. He has 45 days from its passage last Monday to decide whether to act on it, or else issue a de facto pocket veto. Christie has shown apprehension toward the bill, saying he was "not inclined" to allow minors to participate in the medical marijuana program, and that he will refer the matter to the state's health commissioner.
Even with a signature from the governor, the Wilsons face an uphill battle before receiving the treatment that Vivian needs. New Jersey’s lone operational marijuana dispensary, Greenleaf Compassion center in Montclair, announced on Friday that it would be closing for two weeks due to a lack of quality medical marijuana. When it does re-open, Greenleaf won’t service the Wilsons because they live south of its coverage area.
“Nothing’s going to help us until a new dispensary is open,” Vivian's mother, Meghan Wilson, told msnbc. Currently, there are plans for five new dispensaries to come online in New Jersey, with Compassionate Care scheduled to open in southern New Jersey this September.
To compel Christie’s action, the Wilson family has just launched a website, www.lettersforvivian.org that allows concerned individuals to fax the governor’s office with a form letter explaining how the medical marijuana bill can ease the suffering of Vivian and others like her. Vivian's mother told msnbc that she plans to use the “large networks” she has developed through pediatric cannabis and Dravet Syndrome support groups to reach her goal of sending at least 1000 letters.
“Our plan is if we get a significant amount of these letters we’ll hand deliver them to Gov. Christie,” Wilson said.