Legislation Would Create Reciprocity with Other States’ Programs
(TRENTON) — Legislation sponsored by Assemblywomen Linda Stender and Shavonda Sumter to ease access to medical marijuana for licensed in-state and out-of-state patients suffering from debilitating health conditions was approved 50-23-7 by the General Assembly on Thursday.
“Our medical marijuana program is not functioning the way it should be and approved participants have not been able to get the medicine they need,” said Stender (D-Middlesex/Somerset/ Union). “In no way will this bill expand any of the requirements for participation. Instead, it will allow people who have been approved into the program within the existing limitations to access the strains that they need in the event of a lack of availability within our own program.”
The multimedia package consists of video commentary from Assemblywoman Stender on the legislation and a transcript and audio of same.
The audio file is available upon request.
The transcript is appended at the end of the release.
The bill (A-4537) would allow state medical marijuana patients to possess and use, medical marijuana legally obtained from another jurisdiction. The bill would also permit qualifying out-of-State medical marijuana patients and their primary caregivers to engage in any conduct related to medical marijuana permitted under New Jersey law. In both cases, the other jurisdiction’s medical marijuana law must be recognized by the Department of Health.
“Given the delay in fully implementing our program, this change will help patients suffering from debilitating conditions obtain the relief they need elsewhere if need be,” said Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic). “It’s unfortunate that it has to come to this, but it’s important that licensed patients have this option so that they’re not forced to move out of state to find the relief they need.”
For a patient or a caregiver to possess and for a patient to use medical marijuana obtained from another jurisdiction, the patient or caregiver must be authorized to obtain medical marijuana under both New Jersey law and the laws of the other jurisdiction.
The medical marijuana must be in a form and quantity that does not violate New Jersey law and the patient or caregiver must report the quantity of medical marijuana obtained to the patient’s alternative treatment center. A patient or caregiver who obtains medical marijuana from other jurisdictions would not be permitted to exceed the maximum amount of medical marijuana authorized for the patient in a 30-day period by the patient’s physician. The Department of Health would be permitted to revoke or deny renewal of the registration card of a patient or caregiver for a violation of these requirements.
“As of now, approved participants have been unable to get the medicine they need. In the case of little Vivian Wilson, her family is contemplating moving so they can get her the strains she needs. These changes will allow approved participants to remain in New Jersey, close to their families, and still get the treatment they need,” added Stender.
For an out-of-state patient or caregiver to engage in conduct related to medical marijuana in New Jersey, the patient or caregiver must possess a valid medical marijuana certification from another jurisdiction and a valid driver’s license or other photographic identification issued by the other jurisdiction.
The bill would additionally provide that parents of a patient who is a minor may serve as the minor’s primary caregiver, and that a parent who is currently serving as a primary caregiver may concurrently serve as primary caregiver to any of their minor children who are a qualifying patient.
The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.
Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-Union), Assembly State Government Committee Chair:
“We have a legal medical marijuana program in the State of New Jersey. We’ve had it for four and a half years.
“Unfortunately, it’s not working well; it’s not working smoothly; and people – sick people and sick kids – who need access to medication are being denied that access. We have a very tightly controlled program. There are very strict limitations to it. And, for people who have succeeded in becoming a participant, and paying the fees and getting the doctor approvals, unfortunately they still are not getting the medicine.
“There are programs in other states that are working and that are providing much needed relief and medicine to people that really need it. So, what this bill does, will allow participants from New Jersey to bring into the state medical marijuana from another legal program. And it does not expand our program. It does not allow more people into it, or more conditions, or change the eligibility in any way.
“All it says is that if you are a participant in New Jersey and you have met the requirements in another state that has a legal medical marijuana program – like Colorado – and if that medicine’s not available here in the State of New Jersey and you need to be able to bring it in for your child, you should be able to do that. That’s what we’re doing.
“This is about helping people and giving them the access to the medicine that they need.
“Governor Christie has done everything he can to make this program not work. He doesn’t want this program to work, but it is the law of the State of New Jersey. And I’m hoping that the governor is going to take the time to evaluate this bill on its merits and understand that this is not about expanding the program. It’s just about allowing families who already have legal access to be able to use the medicine that they need.”