N.J. Assembly backs edible medical pot for sick kids, OKs cultivation of more strains

The New Jersey Assembly has given final approval to a measure that makes some changes in the state’s medical marijuana law.

 

The bill includes the revisions recommended by Gov. Chris Christie last month when he conditionally vetoed the legislation.

Lawrenceville resident Rowyn Capers, who has glaucoma and needs medical marijuana to keep her ocular pressure steady, said she is pleased the law will allow dispensaries to grow and sell more strains of marijuana.

“People like me who have to function during the day and speak to people don’t function that well only on high THC,” she said. “I need that (cannabidiol) mixed in that so I’m not completely stoned all the time — especially having to medicate every two to three hours around the clock.”

Cannabidiol is a compound in pot that has medical effects but does not make people feel “stoned” and can actually counter the psychoactive effects of THC.

Capers is disappointed the law allows only children to get an edible form of marijuana because she don’t like having to smoke it.

“Naturally a 3-year-old can’t be expected to smoke, but what we’re disappointed in is that is if there’s a 70-year-old who’s never smoked in their life and is undergoing chemotherapy, they won’t be able to have edible marijuana,” said Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, D-Mercer. “So it’s something we need to work on down the line.”

Hope Township resident Jennie Stormes is hoping that will be sooner rather than later for the sake for her 14-year-old son, Jackson, who suffers seizures from a severe form of epilepsy.

“Once you turn 18 you’re technically an adult so what happens at that time? My son has the mental capacity of a five year old. Do you really want a five year old smoking? He doesn’t understand it,” Stormed said. “He also has oxygen. So does he light up to treat his epilepsy while his oxygen is running because that can blow him up?”

Christie has said he will approve the bill if it does not eliminate the requirement that at least two doctors sign off before children can have access to medical cannabis.The state Senate previously accepted Christie’s revisions.

The state’s second medical marijuana dispensary is expected to open in Egg Harbor Township by the end of September. The first alternative treatment center is in North Jersey.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.