In early May, the Medicinal Marijuana Review panel voted 5-1 to approve new qualifying conditions including different types of chronic pain, Tourette’s syndrome, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and anxiety related to Autism or Alzheimer’s disease. The board voted against recommending medical cannabis for treating asthma and chronic fatigue. Although the board has voted to approve these conditions, after a 60 day period and another public hearing, the decision to add the conditions comes down to Health Commissioner Cathleen Bennett who was appointed by Gov. Chris Christie. The program’s already limited list restricts those who suffer from chronic pain to qualify if it’s a result of cancer or HIV/AIDS, even though many patients in the program experience chronic pain as a symptom of their qualifying condition.
The New Jersey Medical Marijuana Program has been criticized for being too restrictive, but its recent growth has been attributed to a series of small changes.
Ken Wolski, executive director of the Coalition of Medical Marijuana New Jersey, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the approval of chronic pain could potentially allow 150,000 chronic pain suffers to join the New Jersey’s Medical Marijuana Program. According to the health department there are currently 11,659 patients enrolled in New Jersey’s Medical Marijuana Program. Upon the addition of chronic pain, regulatory adjustments may be necessary for ATCs to successfully supply the oncoming surge of patients.