Memory of child with cancer inspires push to expand N.J. medical marijuana prog…


New Jersey would drop the two-ounce monthly limit on medical marijuana sales under legislation requested by parents who said the restriction interfered with their attempt to reduce their 7-year-old son’s pain before he died of cancer last month.

Mike and Janet Honig of Howell bought dried cannabis and made their own oil for their son Jake, nicknamed “The Tank.” But they said the two-ounce limit set by state law and regulation, didn’t get them through the month.

“Although medical marijuana proved to be an effective treatment for Jake, his parents noted the difficulties they encountered with the cost, quantity limits, and issues related to producing their own cannabis oil to administer to Jake,” said Assemblywoman Joann Downey, D-Monmouth.  

“In honor of Jake, who passed away in January, this bill seeks to remove certain restrictions on access to medical marijuana in order to reduce the suffering experienced by, and improve the quality of life of, New Jersey patients, like Jake, seeking treatment for a life-threatening medical condition.”

Phil Murphy moves to expand access to medical marijuana in New Jersey

Downey’s bill would also repeal the rule imposed by Gov. Chris Christie that limited the sale of edible products to patients under age 18.

“There are many patients like Jake and his family in New Jersey who deserve to make their own choices on whether to make medical marijuana a part of their medicinal regimen. They must also have access to other types of products, not just in capsule form,” Downey said.

Jake was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma in 2012, a cancer rarely found in the brain. He underwent dozens of rounds of chemotherapy, proton radiation and surgeries at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Downey’s bill is likely to be embraced by Gov. Phil Murphy.

The Murphy administration is nearly halfway through a 60-day audit of the medicinal marijuana program. When he announced the audit on Jan. 23, Murphy hinted he would expand it in myriad ways, including loosening the monthly two-ounce limit on per-patient sales.

Jake’s parents and sister attended the announcement, and spoke about how frustrating it was to run out of cannabis mid-month.

Murphy also said he would consider allowing home delivery and expanding the number of licensed dispensaries to improve patient access, as well as allowing existing dispensary owners to open satelite retail shops.

Sen. Joseph Vitale D-Middlesex, chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee, said he is also drafting legislation to improve the medicinial marijuana program.

Ideas include allowing dispensaries to shed their nonprofit status, in order to allow the owners to deduct expenses and seek more competitive lending rates.

“Right now, they are paying loan-shark rates,” Vitale told NJ Advance Media.

Vitale said he also wants to expand the number of licensed dispensaries to improve patient access. Only five serve the entire state, including two located in…



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