Governor Gives Conditional Approval to Medical Marijuana Bill for Kids

These are the pink signs that greeted the Gov. on Wednesday in Scotch Plains Credits: M Scarlett
Brian Wilson held an unexpected press conference at the Highland on Wednesday. Credits: M Scarlett

TRENTON, NJ – New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gave conditional approval on Friday afternoon to bill S2842, a bill that deals with medical marijuana that expands options for patients and makes it easier for children to qualify for a variety of delivery options.

Gov. Christie had visited Scotch Plains on Wednesday and was greeted by protesters who were supporting passage of the bill because of Vivian Wilson, a 2-year-old Scotch Plains resident with a rare form of epilepsy who cannot get treatment that may help her under the current law, even though she has been an MMJ card carrier since last year.

Vivian’s father, Brian Wilson, staged an impromptu press conference on Wednesday, standing in the Governor’s way and forcing him to listen. Wilson ended the short conversation by pleading, “Governor, don’t let my daughter die.”

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Assemblywoman Linda Stender, co-sponsor of the bill, had also urged the Governor to “put policy before politics” and make passing the bill a priority.

The conditional approval means further delay as the bill will have to go back to the legislature for approval of the two new conditions:

  • The edible forms of marijuana would only be available to minors, not to everyone
  • That both a pediatrician and a psychiatrist should sign off on a child's prescription.

The gain is that the bill eliminates the limit on the number of strains a facility can grow, and it simplifies the process for minors to get approval for MMJ.

The Wilson family was glad it was approved, but not overjoyed.  “We are confident the legislature will resolve the conflict and hope that the Department of Health implements these changes swiftly and with good faith of the intent of the law. However, we are disappointed that the governor decided to make it so difficult for parents, who are already enduring tremendous pain and heartache, to get approval for such a safe and simple medication,” said Brian Wilson. 

Wilson then pointed out that if the same logic was followed, then a bill should be drafted that would  “require three doctors to sign off for pediatric prescriptions of opiates, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, steroids and methamphetamines, which are all liberally prescribed with little oversight or doctor-to-parent education.”

Christie contended that he was “making common sense 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.” 

“If this was not approved, our only other option was to move to Colorado, where what Vivian needs is readily available,” said Brian Wilson.

While this approval means that a move is unlikely, there is still a question mark over exactly when the Wilson family will get what they need to help control their daughter’s rare condition.

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