New Jersey is known for having some of the most stringent medical marijuana rules in the country. But those regulations were relaxed quite a bit last week when the Garden State’s Medical Marijuana Review Panel approved five new qualifying conditions. Although far shy of the 43 new conditions that were proposed, the five that were approved will allow tens of thousands of new patients to obtain cannabis legally for the first time.
The five new conditions approved by the Medicinal Marijuana Review Panel are:
- Tourette’s syndrome
- Chronic pain related to musculoskeletal disorders
- Chronic pain of visceral origin (related to internal organs)
The extra conditions still need to be approved by the New Jersey State Health Commissioner, who was appointed by Governor Chris Christie. Even Christie, a long-time medical marijuana opponent who was quoted earlier this year stating that “marijuana is poisoning our kids,” has had to succumb to the will of the people as evidenced by his signing a bill in September that allows patients with PTSD access to cannabis.
Currently, only about 12,000 people qualify for medical marijuana in the state of New Jersey, as the program covers just the following 12 conditions:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Muscular dystrophy
- Inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Terminal illness (if the physician has determined a prognosis of less than 12 months of life)
- Intractable skeletal muscular spasticity
- Seizure disorder, including epilepsy
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
The five new conditions would expand the New Jersey medical marijuana program significantly. Once accepted into the program, patients are allowed 2 ounces per month, which can be obtained at one of the six state-licensed dispensaries.
New Jersey’s medical marijuana program has been criticized by many for being far too restrictive and it recently received a C grade on an annual report prepared by Americans for Safe Access (ASA). Despite this, the program has almost doubled in the past year, and with these five new accepted conditions, the patient counts will continue to see rapid growth.
With Chris Christie’s term up for good in January, and newly-elected Governor Phil Murphy pledging to legalize cannabis for adult-use within his first 100 days of taking office, the future is looking pretty green for the Garden State.