A bill to expand access to medicinal cannabis in New Jersey has been approved by the state Senate with a 36-1 vote.
The bill received Committee approval on January 27, 2020, with a 7-0 vote with one abstention.
The bill, S-619, which is sponsored by Senator Declan O’Scanlon, would allow doctors to authorize medical cannabis patients electronically rather than requiring an in-person office visit.
O’Scanlon says that patients who rely on medical cannabis to treat their conditions will benefit from doctors’ appointments that are more convenient and less expensive.
The senator says that utilizing available technology is a practical approach that will improve the health and wellness of patients in New Jersey.
“We know medical cannabis is an effective drug that can be effective in for an ever-expanding list of conditions, even replacing highly addictive opioid medications for some people,” says O’Scanlon. “Telemedicine is the ‘healthcare of the future,’ increasing access to quality, cost-effective medical care and treatment through modern digital technology.”
O’Scanlon says that the needs of patients who can benefit from medical cannabis can be better served electronically, eliminating the need for unnecessary doctor’s office visits or taking time off from work to go to an appointment.
For the initial nine months under S-619, health care practitioners would be able to authorize medical cannabis for patients who are in hospice care, residents of long-term care facilities, developmentally disabled, certified homebound, or terminally ill.
After 270 days, practitioners would be allowed to provide electronic authorization for any patient that has had at least one previous in-person office visit.
The companion bill to S-619, A-1635, was introduced and referred to the Assembly Health Committee in January but has not received a vote as of yet.
There are currently more than 68,000 registered patients in the New Jersey medical cannabis program.