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N.J.'s Medical Pot Law Revised to Help Sick Kids

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By Brett Snider, Esq. on September 12, 2013 8:58 AM

Medical marijuana has new life in New Jersey thanks to a bill signed by Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday -- a bill which lawmakers hope will assist sick children get to the drugs they need.

The Garden State's new medical pot law does away with a restriction that limited legal dispensaries to only three strains of cannabis. It also allows edible marijuana to be sold to eligible children, reports The Associated Press.

Does this new law open the door for easier access to medicinal pot in New Jersey?

Christie Conditionally Approves Bill

Senate Bill 2842, the bill which sought to remove New Jersey's current restrictions on medical marijuana, was approved by both the state House of Representatives and Senate, but it was only signed by Gov. Chris Christie after a conditional veto.

New Jersey legislators had voted to strike the requirement that children get approval from two doctors in order to use medicinal marijuana. But Gov. Christie vetoed that change, so it remains in place, reports The Associated Press.

Under New Jersey's new medical pot law, state dispensaries supported by current state law will be able to distribute beneficial strains of marijuana to children with qualifying conditions, in easy-to-digest lozenge or edible forms.

So toddlers need not spark up their medicine to get well.

Bill Pushed by Child Pot Patient

While some may see the bill's result -- medical pot for children -- as strange, it may not seem so strange when you consider the case of 2-year-old Vivian Wilson of New Jersey.

Wilson suffers from a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome that causes frequent seizures -- a condition that a particular strain of marijuana, nicknamed "Charlotte's Web," has been able to treat, reports NJ.com.

The strain contains very little THC -- the psychoactive ingredient in pot that gets users "high." Rather, it contains a high concentration of CBD, or cannabidiol, which has proved effective in treating seizures. A recent CNN report showed how it's being used to help a 6-year-old medical marijuana patient in Colorado.

The problem was, even after New Jersey launched its medical cannabis program in 2012, access to "Charlotte's Web" was highly restricted, and stores that chose to carry the niche drug risked losing business by not selling more popular THC-heavy strains.

With the new laws removing the restriction on the kinds of medical marijuana that can be sold, Gov. Christie hopes that "suffering children can get the treatment they need," reports NJ.com.

The new law, however, may not protect Wilson and her parents from prosecution under federal law. Indeed, the Department of Justice recently listed pot distribution to minors as one of its areas of concern when it comes to federal marijuana-law enforcement.

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