Gov. Murphy greatly expanded New Jersey's medical marijuana program
Tuesday, opening the door to tens of thousands of new patients and
allowing the five dispensaries spread across the state to add
satellite retail centers and cultivation facilities.
The governor added to the list of ailments that qualify for a cannabis
prescription. He also cleared the way for any doctor in the state to
prescribe cannabis, ending a system in which only those physicians who
registered -- and thus, joined a publicly available list of providers
- -- could do so. He said some doctors had been reluctant to participate
in the program because they viewed joining the list as a stigma.
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Doctors would decide which patients should use marijuana as medicine
instead of being limited by a narrow list of eligible diseases set by
law, under a sweeping medical marijuana overhaul approved by a state
Assembly panel Thursday.
The measure that cleared the Assembly Health Committee would also
allow registered patients to buy up to four ounces of cannabis, or
twice as much as they are permitted to obtain now.
The dispensaries and cultivators would be divided evenly in the
northern, central and southern regions of the state, including the six
who are already licensed to grow and sell.
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TRENTON -- The first New Jersey legislative hearing on the
legalization of marijuana held since Gov. Murphy took office -- after
he promised his support -- unfolded Monday before more than 100 people.
More than a dozen experts traveled from as far as Colorado and
Massachusetts to office advice on legalization, a topic gaining
traction after Murphy, a Democrat, replaced Gov. Chris Christie, a
Republican adamantly opposed to it, in January.
Several lawmakers are working on legalization bills, but none has come
up for a vote and some legislators say they are trying to get a consensus.
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In what could be a precedent-setting decision, a New Jersey
administrative law judge has ordered an insurance company to pay for
medical marijuana for an injured worker who suffers from lingering
neuropathic pain in his left hand after an accident while using a
power saw at an 84 Lumber outlet in 2008.
Judge Ingrid L. French took testimony from the worker, a 39-year-old
Egg Harbor Township man, and a Cherry Hill psychiatrist/neurologist
who said the marijuana treatment was appropriate because it would
allow the patient to reduce his prescription opiate use and lower the
risk of serious side effects.
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