The New Jersey Department of Health has announced it will accept petitions for additional medical conditions that could be covered under the state’s medicinal marijuana program.

The petition process will begin Aug. 1 and end Aug. 31. A copy of the form is at the bottom of this post.

The suggestions will be considered over the course of several months, and a final decision about expanding the medical marijuana program isn’t expected to be made before next summer.

“We’re very glad the Department of Health is finally decided to accept petitions to expand the medicinal marijuana program. We think it’s long overdue but we’re happy they’re finally getting around to doing it,” said Ken Wolski, the executive director of the coalition for medical marijuana of New Jersey.

He said “certainly post traumatic stress disorder should be a condition that would be covered in the state’s medical marijuana program. It’s very poorly treated by traditional therapies and 22 veterans a day are committing suicide for PTSD.”

Wolski also believes chronic pain should also be a condition that is covered by medical marijuana.

“This is why most people use medical marijuana. It’s much safer than opiods and it’s even safer than many of the over-the-counter non prescription drugs,” he said.

He added another condition his group will ask to be included in the medical marijuana program is autism.

“We know self-injurious behavior that is characteristic of autism is often controlled well through marijuana therapy,” he said.

Another petition will specifically be made by the coalition to allow neuropathic pain to be treated with medical marijuana.

“It’s a specific type of pain that is characterized by nerve pain, it can be the result of diabetes, it can be the result of many different kinds of conditions,” Wolski said. “It feels like electric shocks, and it’s very poorly treated by traditional analgesic medicine.”

Wolski added: “Chronic anxiety is certainly a condition that could qualify for marijuana therapy. I mean people see psychiatrists for anxiety, they’re prescribed tranquilizers, anything that really is prescribed, a drug to treat a mental or emotional condition could possibly be a candidate for marijuana therapy.”

He stressed “the safety profile of marijuana is the envy of most pharmaceutical drugs. A great many people turn to alcohol to relieve stress, so marijuana is a safer alternative, but stress is probably not going to be considered a condition.”

Assemblyman John Dimaio believes it’s important to proceed with caution when even considering expanding the state’s medical marijuana program.

“When people are talking about treating chronic stress with marijuana I don’t know many people in this day in age that aren’t feeling a lot of stress in the workplace,” he said. “What’s concerning is we keep making more and more reasons to have access to this and it starts infiltrating more and more into society causing greater problems.”

He added, “This sounds very troubling to me. This is one more way to deteriorate society and then we’ll have other costs as we go on with drug interdiction.”

More from New Jersey 101.5: