Medical marijuana patients in New Jersey call it long overdue relief. And one New Jersey newspaper calls it “The Murphy Effect.” Whatever you want to call it, the state’s cannabis program has officially reached its highwater mark: 2,000 patients enrolled.
In about three months after New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy took the oath, 4,200 residents have registered to become patients. The once-fledgling program now has 20,000 people enrolled. According to NJ.com, who calls the growth “The Murphy Effect, 1,500 signed up in the last month, when the pro-cannabis governor expanded the qualifying medical condition list to include chronic pain and anxiety.
“We’re adding 100 new patients every day,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal. “This demonstrates that there was pent-up demand. People with chronic pain now have the option of medicinal marijuana instead of opioids, and more than 100 strains are available.”
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The Murphy administration will be launching a $50,000 media campaign to promote the program, NJ.com reported. Just last month. Murphy announced major reforms to medicinal marijuana program, including the addition of medical conditions, lowered patient and caregiver fees, allowing dispensaries to add satellite locations, and proposed legislative changes that would increase the monthly product limit for patients, and allow an unlimited supply for those receiving hospice care.
“We are changing the restrictive culture of our medical marijuana program to make it more patient-friendly,” Murphy said at the time of his announcement. “We are adding five new categories of medical conditions, reducing patient and caregiver fees, and recommending changes in law so patients will be able to obtain the amount of product that they need. Some of these changes will take time, but we are committed to getting it done for all New Jersey residents who can be helped by access to medical marijuana.”
More than 20 recommendations were outlined in a report that Elnahal submitted to Murphy in response to Executive Order 6, which directed a comprehensive review of the program within 60 days. “As a physician, I have seen the therapeutic benefits of marijuana for patients with cancer and other difficult conditions,” said Dr. Elnahal. “These recommendations are informed by discussions with patients and their families, advocates, dispensary owners, clinicians, and other health professionals on the Medicinal Marijuana Review Panel. We are reducing the barriers for all of these stakeholders in order to allow many more patients to benefit from this effective treatment option.”