Like the man says, he’s in this business to win.
“Governor Toke,” I’m now calling him. Kidding, kidding:
The governor signaled that he would sign the bill if the Legislature made two changes:
— That edible forms of marijuana would be available to qualified minors only, not for everyone;
— That both a pediatrician and a psychiatrist should sign off on a child’s prescription
Current law allows New Jersey patients to get medical marijuana, but the bill, S2842, would eliminate a limit on the number of marijuana strains that the state’s dispensaries can cultivate — ostensibly making it more likely that they would carry versions that certain patients seek.
It also would simplify the application process for minors, who currently are required to obtain three letters of support — from the prescribing physician, a pediatrician and a psychiatrist. The bill would require minors, like adults, to obtain a single letter.
He’s vetoing the current bill, in other words, but will sign it if they tweak it just a bit to
improve the policy give him slightly more political cover on his right flank. The key here, and the chief complaint of Brian Wilson (the father of the sick girl who confronted Christie a few days ago), was the limit on the number of strains of weed that medical marijuana dispensaries in New Jersey can grow. Vivian Wilson needs a particular type that’s low in intoxicating THC but high in non-intoxicating CBD to treat her Dravet Syndrome and reduce her seizures. Per CNN, a new dispensary is opening in Jersey later this year that’ll sell the high-CBD strain but the current dispensary — the only one in the state — doesn’t stock it because it’s capped at three strains. Christie’s willing to lift the cap, which should get the little girl some relief sooner rather than later, and he’s willing to allow ingestible forms for kids, which is easier for Vivian to consume than lozenges are.
That’s the supply part. The other part is ease of access, i.e. how many doctors are needed to, er, “greenlight” a kid’s use. The haggling over whether one, two, or three should have to sign the prescription smells like pure politics: Current law says three, the new bill passed by Democrats says one, so Christie’s settling on two as a compromise so that Rick Santorum can’t call him a hippie or whatever at one of the 2016 debates. (Bonus right-flank cover: The two doctors must be participants in the state’s medical marijuana program. If they aren’t, Christie still wants three signatures.) What’s odd about the two-doctor minimum is that, in his statement this afternoon announcing his decision, Christie said, “As I have repeatedly noted, I believe that parents, and not government regulators, are best suited to decide how to care for their children.” For most illnesses, we let a kid’s primary physician medicate them with one prescription. Why demand two in this case?
Long story short, this guy just kicked off a national epidemic of reefer madness. Done.
Update: Not good enough, says Brian Wilson.
“The quest for children was always finding anybody on the registry who would see a minor,” said Wilson.
“Our initial pediatrician wanted nothing to do with it. We went back to our original pediatrician, she was sympathetic. She signed up,” said Wilson.
But the requirement of a psychiatrist is the real hurdle, said Wilson.
“The psychiatrist is a roadblock. You’re talking about sick kids who aren’t even necessarily capable of talking,” said Wilson.
“To keep that in is just telling parents who are suffering with these horrible diseases with children, ‘I’m going to make it more difficult for you to get treatment for your child,'” said Wilson.