New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie agreed Friday to give chronically ill children easier access to medical marijuana, but he was unwilling to go as far as state lawmakers wanted.
The Republican governor conditionally vetoed a bill on the topic.
He said he agreed with provisions that would allow production of ingestible forms of pot at state-approved dispensaries and to allow dispensaries to grow more than three strains of the drug, but he struck a part of the bill that would have dropped a requirement that a psychiatrist and pediatrician sign off before children are allowed medical marijuana.
The bill now goes back to the Legislature. If lawmakers make the changes Christie requested, it will become law. It was not immediately clear when lawmakers may take it up, but the state Senate does have a voting session scheduled for Monday.
Like the 19 other states that allow medical marijuana, New Jersey lets children use it. But unlike all but a few, the state law and regulations currently in place—considered perhaps the most stringent among states that allow medical pot at all—have additional hurdles for young patients.
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They must have a pediatrician and psychiatrist sign off on their use. And if one of those doctors is not registered with the state medicinal cannabis program, they would need a third physician to recommend the drug.
The bill to ease access sparked a new round of debate between Christie and medical marijuana advocates, many of whom doubt that he wants the state's fledgling pot-for-patients program to succeed.
It attracted broader attention this week when parent John Wilson confronted the governor during a campaign stop in a diner. Wilson believes his 2-year-old daughter, Vivian, would benefit by using a certain form and strain of pot for Dravet syndrome, a rare and sometimes deadly form of epilepsy.