TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Gov. Chris Christie has agreed to give chronically ill children easier access to medical marijuana.
The governor dodged reporters’ questions earlier on Friday, CBS 2’s Lou Young reported. However, four hours later his office issued a press release announcing that he had conditionally vetoed a bill on the issue because it went further than he was willing to go.
But in the 11th hour Christie agreed to allow production of ingestible forms of pot at state-approved dispensaries and to allow dispensaries to grow more than three strains of the drug, CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported.
The governor wants to leave a requirement that a psychiatrist and pediatrician sign off before children are allowed medical marijuana.
They would still need a third doctor’s recommendation if one of the others is not registered in the program.
“As I have repeatedly noted, I believe that parents, and not government regulators, are best suited to decide how to care for their children,” Christie said in a statement. “Protection of our children remains my utmost concern, and my heart goes out to those children and their families who are suffering with serious illnesses.”
The bill was being pushed by parents of children with severe seizure disorders who said that children elsewhere have benefited from certain strains of marijuana.
Brian Wilson, the father of a 2-year-old who suffers from Dravet Syndrome — a potentially deadly form of epilepsy, confronted Christie on the issue Wednesday.
“Don’t let my daughter die,” Wilson begged Christie.
He called his daughter’s condition “crucial.”
“We can’t wait a year to start treating Vivian. This is immediate, this is crucial, this is her life,” Wilson said.
Wilson said that additional delays brought on by the conditional veto mean that his family will have to move.
“We’re going to have to relocate to another state,” he said.
Wilson said that he hopes to return to New Jersey once conditions in the Garden State change.
“Hopefully within a year or two we can come back. Once they have high CBD strains reliably being produced,” he said.
The announcement left some bill proponents concerned.
“Not everybody has a pediatrician as a child. Not everybody has a psychiatrist. My son is non-verbal, he cannot speak, or talk to a psychiatrist to get a license. My son needs a specialist to oversee this,” registered nurse Jennie Stormes said.
In his decision Friday, Christie said he has made “commonsense recommendations” to the bill “to ensure sick children receive the treatment their parents prefer, while maintaining appropriate safeguards.”
The bill now goes back to the Legislature.
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