While New Jersey governor Chris Christie searches for a viable solution to combat the opioid epidemic currently running rampant in the state, a legion of cannabis advocates suffering from chronic pain have emerged to offer him the angle he has been searching for: medical marijuana.
Although New Jersey has a medical marijuana program in place, it is not available to those people suffering from chronic pain. However, plenty of evidence has emerged over the years indicating that the scourge of painkiller addiction in not running as rampant in states where patients have the option to use pot as an alternative to opioid medications.
On Wednesday, the Medicinal Marijuana Review Panel conducted a public hearing in order to gauge the types of health conditions to consider adding to the state’s limited program. It was there that more than two-dozen believers in the cannabis plant stood up in support of allowing those riddled with pain to have access to the herb, reports NJ.com.
“If Chris Christie really wanted to reduce opioid addiction, he would get behind this,” one person told the panel.
Governor Christie has not exactly been an avid supporter of marijuana legalization, even if it is for medicinal use. Since the state legalized medical marijuana several years ago, Christie has maintained that the state should continue with its to-in-the-water approach to this issue for fear that any sudden movements could drag New Jersey down the path to full legalization – something Christie has said will never happen as long as he is in office.
But Christie finally took a stand with the issue late last year when he signed a bill allowing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to be added to the states list of qualified conditions. This modest expansion to the state’s medical marijuana program “would provide struggling veterans and others with the ability to use medical marijuana,” Christie said in a statement.
New Jersey’s medical marijuana supporters believe the next logical step toward a functional program is for Christie to give pain sufferers the green light to use the herb.
Panel members told reporters that they believe “chronic pain” will be recommended as a qualified condition. But then, it is out of their hands.
Although the Medicinal Marijuana Review Panel can advise Christie to incorporate pain conditions into the program, the final decision is ultimately up to Health Commissioner Cathleen Bennett.
Reports indicate that the vetting process for new qualified conditions will be complete at some point this summer. If all goes well, it is conceivable that people living in pain could be given access to the program later this year.