NJ Telemedicine bill

3/6/20 By DAN ULLOA

A bill enabling cannabis telemedicine passed the New Jersey Assembly Health Committee would allow patients to have a doctor’s appointment by telephone or video conference to secure a medical marijuana prescription.

Telemedicine means doctor’s appointments can be conducted over the phone or by video conference (like Skype).

It was sponsored by Assemblywomen Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden, Burlington) and Joann Downey (D-Monmouth). The telemedicine bill passed 10-2 with one absentation. Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz (R-Union) joined the Democrats in voting for the bill.

This will be especially helpful for disabled patients. However, those who are not disabled need to visit the doctor in-person at least once to receive their initial medical marijuana (or clinical cannabis) prescription.

Downey and Lampitt released a joint statement saying, “Many medicinal marijuana patients suffer from conditions that limit mobility, making frequent visits to the doctor’s office a significant barrier to the medicine they need. Residents of long-term care facilities, people with developmental disabilities or terminal illnesses, and patients who are medically housebound or receiving hospice care are some of our most vulnerable patients and are typically the ones whose access to medical marijuana is restricted by the requirement to renew their prescription in-person at their doctor’s office.

They added regarding the telemedicine bill that “The pain relief, muscle relaxation, nausea prevention and anxiety reduction of medical marijuana are too important to the people suffering from severe medical conditions to be hindered by in-person doctor visitation requirements. This bill will utilize today’s technology to help provide easier access to this beneficial medication on behalf of the people who need it the most.”

A companion bill already passed the State Senate with little opposition.

The bill assumes that the Cannabis Regulatory Commission, which has exactly one member at this time, will regulate the telemedicine process.

If the telemedicine bill passes the Assembly and is signed into law by Governor Murphy (or Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver in his absence) it will take effect immediately. But, for the first 270 days or nine months only severely disabled patients are allowed a telemedicine appointment.

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