Patients who use medicinal marijuana in New Jersey will soon have a new way to take it.
Later this month Compassionate Sciences in Bellmawr, one of five certified medical marijuana dispensaries in New Jersey, will begin offering cannabis-enhanced creams and lozenges.
This really is a tremendous step forward in medical marijuana, its a real advancement for patients, according to Ken Wolski, the executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana of New Jersey.
He said its welcome news because this really will help children who obviously cannot inhale marijuana, especially toddlers who may have seizure disorders, but it also will help patients who are in hospice, who may be on oxygen and cannot smoke marijuana.
Another advantage of having marijuana available in these forms, said Wolski, is it will help patients in pain sleep through the night.
The inhaled version will only last a couple of hours, but if you eat an edible product that could last for six to eight hours, he explained. Although the effect takes a little longer to come on, it lasts longer, so if patients are using it for pain control or to help them sleep during the night, they find they can get an adequate amount of rest or pain control without having to be awakened in the middle of the night.
Wolski also noted once lozenges become available, theres no reason why they cant be given to all patients who are under the care of the state of New Jersey.
This would include patients in psychiatric hospital s and correctional facilities who have qualifying conditions, he said. The law simply says marijuana cant be smoked in correctional facilities, but it doesnt say it cant be used.
He explained inmates are entitled to community standards of medical care, so if marijuana is now a standard of community medical care they should be able to use it, just like any other patient in New Jersey.
Wolski added nurses in state facilities are well trained and thus perfectly capable of giving controlled substances to the patients who need medicinal marijuana.
A step in the right direction?
Wolski noted when medical marijuana was first introduced six years ago, everyone thought the program would proceed smoothly, but that has not been the case.
In 2010 when the medical marijuana bill was passed into law we thought our job was done here in New Jersey but we found out it was just beginning, he said.
Gov. Chris Christie, New Jerseys top former federal law enforcement official, was not happy predecessor Jon Corzine signed the states medical marijuana bill into law right before he left office.
Christie, a staunch opponent of marijuana legalization efforts, has required medical marijuana facilities in Jersey to follow what are considered to be the toughest standards in the nation. Medical marijuana advocates said the state delayed implementation of the program and limited the number of patients who were able to access it.
The state Health Department reports there are currently about 9,000 patients eligible to receive medical marijuana.
This does represent progress in the medicinal marijuana program and were very grateful for that progress and we look forward to the full implementation of it, said Wolski.