Parents Beg Christie to Give Sick Kids Access to Medical Marijuana [AUDIO]
There is a bill on Gov. Chris Christie's desk right now that would amend New Jersey's medical marijuana law to allow severely ill children to have access to the drug.
A group of parents has hand delivered thousands of letters to the Governor's office imploring him to sign the measure into law. Wednesday night on Townsquare Media's "Ask the Governor" program, Christie said he'll do what's best for every child in the Garden State.
The bill in question is sponsored by Assemblywoman Linda Stender and State Sen. Nick Scutari. It's in response to efforts by Union County couple Brian and Meghan Wilson to obtain what could be life-saving treatment for their two-year old daughter Vivian who is suffering from Dravet syndrome, a severe and rare form of epilepsy that anti-seizure medicine does not control.
"It (access to medical marijuana) makes these kids suddenly be able to live again, be able to stop having seizures," says Mr. Wilson. "It doesn't cure most of them because her (Vivian's) disorder is incurable, but it gives her her life back….The difficulty has been in getting people to listen (and) getting people to understand that we're not looking to get the children high."
The strain of medical marijuana Mr. Wilson is hoping Vivian can try doesn't contain THC which is the chemical that creates the high. He says for many child disorders you certainly don't want the THC because you don't want them getting high.
"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."
The legislation 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 like Vivian, who had her first seizure at two months old.
The bill would also allow the distribution of medical marijuana in dried form, oral lozenges, topical formulations, or edible form. Current regulations prohibit marijuana from being dispensed in the edible form, which in some cases could be the most appropriate form for a young child to receive treatment.
To date, no minors have received medical marijuana through the program, in part because of a lack of formal recommendations by pediatricians and psychiatrists for the medical use of marijuana by minors.
"I'm concerned about expanding the program and I want to make sure that if we do it we do it in a way that is helpful to children (and) does not reduce any of the requirements of the program to make sure this doesn't go down the slippery slope of broadening a program and making it easier to get marijuana that wouldn't necessarily go to other people," said Christie. "It (the bill) is on my desk. I'm examining it. I'm hoping to come up with a solution that will be helpful to these families, but also helpful to all families in New Jersey."
In other medical marijuana related news, State Health commissioner Mary O'Dowd yesterday announced the opening of the Compassionate Care Foundation (CCF) Alternative Treatment Center (ATC) in Egg Harbor Twp. Begining this Monday, patients and caregivers will be able to register with this ATC on the New Jersey Medicinal Marijuana Program's webpage.