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Greenwald Introduces Legislation to Help Make NJ’s Medical Marijuana Program Work Better for Children with Debilitating Illnesses & Disabilities

Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald introduced legislation this week to revise New Jersey’s medical marijuana program to help ease the restrictions and eliminate the bureaucracy that have prevented many children with debilitating illnesses and disabilities from receiving the treatment they need.

“In the past five years we have seen the successes and failures of our state’s medical marijuana program,” said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). “The system has been hampered by inaction and bureaucracy and is not working for the state’s most severely disabled children. We’re talking about some of our most vulnerable patients and their families who are forced to jump through unnecessary hoops while their children suffer. This legislation will fine-tune our program, remove arbitrary restrictions and help some of our youngest patients receive the treatment they need to find a measure of relief.”

The bill will correct some of the failings in the state’s medical marijuana program established by law over six years ago and build upon the legislation Greenwald sponsored last session to allow use of medical marijuana in school or day programs serving developmentally disabled adults.

Greenwald’s legislation (A-4026) lays out a new framework for the program, including:
· Allowing medical marijuana to be considered the first line of treatment for patients with debilitating medical conditions;
· Allowing both parents to serve as a child’s primary caregiver and providing that a parent can both be a medical marijuana program patient and caregiver;
· Establishing a secondary caregiver position so an adult employee at a patient’s school or a long-term facility can administer medication;
· Removing current restriction that permit edible forms of medical marijuana to be distributed only to qualifying patients who are minors; and
· Requiring the Department of Health to develop standardized dosage units for each form of medical marijuana available in New Jersey Alternative Treatment Centers.

The legislation was introduced on Monday and has been referred to the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee.