Pubdate: Mon, 20 May 2013
Source: Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ)
Copyright: 2013 Newark Morning Ledger Co
Author: Susan K. Livio


TRENTON - New Jersey's medical marijuana law states the program is 
open to minors, but Gov. Chris Christie said today he is "not 
inclined to allow" children to participate.

"I'm very concerned, if we go down this slope of allowing minors to 
use this, where does it ends?" the governor said.

Christie was responding to a question concerning a Star-Ledger report 
Sunday about Vivian Wilson, a 2-year-old child with a severe and rare 
form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome. She received a medical 
marijuana identification card from the state Health Department in 
February, but her parents, Brian and Meghan Wilson of Scotch Plains, 
have been unable to find a psychiatrist to support her enrollment in 
the program. The law requires the approval of a pediatrician, a 
psychiatrist and the child's prescribing physician before the family 
may purchase the drug on a child's behalf.

The Wilsons are asking lawmakers to make an exception for their 
daughter and other seriously ill children who cannot be helped with 
traditional medication.

"I have the health commissioner looking at that particular situation 
and making recommendations to me," Christie said during a press 
conference in Lavallette. "But I will tell you -- I've said this all 
along and I'll say it again -- I want New Jersey to be a 
compassionate state. And for people who this is your only option to 
get pain relief, for those who are terminally ill, (and) are 
chronically ill, we've authorized it," the governor said.

"But I am not going to allow New Jersey to become a California or a 
Colorado where someone can fake a headache and get a bag of pot on 
every corner. So I'm very concerned, if we go down this slope of 
allowing minors to use this, where it ends," Christie added. "So I'll 
have the health commissioner look at it, report back to me, but I 
don't want to mislead people either, I'm not inclined to allow them 
to have it."

When asked to clarify Christie's comments, his spokesman Michael 
Drewniak said, "He's simply concerned about the public policy 
implications of minors having access to legal marijuana. As he said, 
he views it as a slippery slope where we need to be very careful, 
though he understands where the regulations currently stand."

The Wilsons say prescription medications, a strict diet, and the use 
of an eye patch during waking hours have helped reduce the frequency 
and severity of Vivian's seizures, but she is still at significant 
health risks and her development is delayed, her parents say. They 
say they are anxious to obtain an edible form of marijuana high in 
cannabidiols, or CBDs, but low in psychoactive properties, or what 
gives people that high feeling. One strain, Charlotte's Web, is 
helping 19 children and young adults with serious forms of epilepsy 
in Colorado.

The Wilsons could not immediately be reached for comment.

Anthony Anzalone, a Rutherford doctor who has recommended three 
children to the program told The Star-Ledger the health department 
has asked him to hold off on enrolling more children until enough 
physicians representing the required specialties are participating in 
the program.

MaryAnn Spoto contributed to this report.
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