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Medical cannabis and kids: New Jersey may ease access

The media love cute, bite-sized expressions that serve as shorthand for large social problems. The term "pill mill," for example, is commonly used to refer to pain management clinics that authorities think may be too willing to dispense prescription drugs.

Another such term is in play this week in New Jersey. The Wall Street Journal has dubbed the current controversy over the application of the state's medical marijuana law to children as "pot for tots."


New Jersey is one of the growing number of states that allow medical cannabis. The law extends to minors as well as adults, though minors must obtain additional permissions to participate.

It is standard practice under medical marijuana laws for a patient to need a prescription from a physician. But for minors in New Jersey with qualifying medical conditions, permission must also come from a pediatrican and a psychologist.

The New Jersey legislature has passed a bill to streamline the approval process. Under the bill, a physician's sign-off would suffice.

The bill would also remove some other limitations in the medical marijuana law. For example, it would allow edible forms of marijuana to be sold at dispensaries.

Gov. Chris Christie has not yet decided whether to sign the bill. The governor has said, however, that he is skeptical about why the approval process should be streamlined.

To be sure, there are additional safeguards in requiring approval from an entire team, rather than merely one doctor. But it's also true that the governor has taken a critical stance toward the pot provisions in New Jersey law. He has already threatened to veto a law that would legalize recreational marijuana possession, even though the legislature has not even passed such a bill.

Meanwhile, the proponents of simplifying the medical marijuana approval process for minors are making their case. They point to a toddler who has become the de facto poster child for the bill. This toddler suffers from seizures that his parents say could be eased by edible cannabis that is used in other states.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "'Pot for Tot's in New Jersey," Hary Graver, July 11, 2013

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