Today, State Sen. Nick Scutari, a prime sponsor of the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act introduced legislation to amend the state’s medical marijuana law in order to promote access to children with severe illnesses. Assemblywoman Linda Stender will introduce the measure in the Assembly when the lower house meets next week.

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“It was never our intent for the state’s medical marijuana program to be so restrictive that a child who is suffering and in desperate need of relief from a debilitating condition could not get access to care,” says Scutari. “If medical marijuana will help to control the constant seizing that this toddler is forced to endure, the compassionate thing to do is to provide her with treatment. This measure will eliminate unnecessary restrictions created by state regulations to better ensure that the Wilson family – and others facing similar circumstances – can get their children the compassionate care they deserve.”

The proposed bill is in response to efforts by a Union County couple to obtain what could  be life-saving treatment for their 2-year-old daughter, who is suffering from Dravet syndrome, a severe and rare form of epilepsy that anti-seizure medicine does not control. The legislators’ bill would require that minors be subject to the same requirements as adults to participate in the state’s medical marijuana program. The measure is intended to remove barriers to treatment faced by children such as 2-year-old Vivian Wilson, who had her first seizure at two months old.

“Any parent would give the world to provide their child relief from the unimaginable pain and agony of chronic seizures that this young girl has had to live with,” says Stender. “Marijuana could provide a form of relief that would be life-changing for Vivian and her family. As a state, we should not stand in the way of that. This measure will help ensure that New Jerseyans who are suffering with severe illnesses are not prevented from accessing medicine the law was intended to provide. This is the compassionate thing to do, and the right thing to do.”