Pubdate: Mon, 24 Jun 2013
Source: Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ)
Copyright: 2013 Newark Morning Ledger Co
Author: Susan K. Livio


TRENTON - As the mothers of two chronically sick children cried tears
of relief, the Assembly approved a bill today that would remove some
of the legal barriers that have prevented kids from benefiting from
New Jersey's medicinal marijuana program.

The 55-13 vote with nine abstentions in the Assembly was the bill's
last stop before going to Gov. Chris Christie, who has reluctantly
implemented the medical marijuana law and has said he is "not inclined
to allow" children to participate in the program, even though state
law allows it.

Meghan Wilson of Scotch Plains and Jennie Stormes of Hope Township,
who sat in the back of the Assembly chamber awaiting the vote, said
they hoped the governor would keep an open mind for the sake of their
children and other families caring for a child with a debilitating

"I hope he can put on his Dad hat for a few minutes and read this with
a human heart, and think about what he would do if he was in this
situation," Wilson said.

Assemblywoman Linda Stender and Sen. Nicholas Scutari (both D-Union)
sponsored the bill on behalf of Meghan and Brian Wilson's 2-year-old
daughter, Vivian, who is diagnosed with Dravet syndrome, a severe and
potentially lethal form of epilepsy. The toddler's parents say they
are eager to find a strain of marijuana that is successfully
preventing seizures in children with Dravet in Colorado and
California, but claim New Jersey's medicinal marijuana rules are too
restrictive to permit them from exploring that option.

State law requires minors who qualify for the medical pot program not
only to obtain a referral from a treating physician, but also to get
letters of support from a pediatrician and a psychiatrist -- something
the Wilsons were unable to accomplish until they went public with
their story last month in The Star-Ledger.

The bill would require parents to obtain one recommendation from the
child's treating doctor only, and allow dispensaries to grow more than
three strains of marijuana and sell it in edible form -- conditions
that state rules now forbid.

Wilson was accompanied to the statehouse by Stormes, whose 14-year-old
son, Jackson, has the same illness as Vivian and has had trouble
getting access to medicinal marijuana. Stormes said she knows the drug
will help her son; he lives part-time with his father in California
where he is also a registered patient, and has had fewer and shorter
seizures after using medicinal marijuana.

"I hope Governor Christie. . . thinks of his children. If they were
having seizures every day, he would vote yes," Stormes said. If signed
into law, the bill means "I can finally treat my son. This is his
whole future. The drugs have failed. There is nothing left. He really
needs this."
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