Governor Phil Murphy (D) has signed into law a bill that makes marijuana telemedicine permanent effective immediately.
To help more New Jersey medical cannabis patients access the pain relief they need, Assemblywomen Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington) and Joann Downey (D-Monmouth) sponsored a bill that would allow health care practitioners to remotely authorize medical marijuana or cannabis use via telemedicine/telehealth medical appointments.
“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. 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,” a joint statement by Lampitt and Downey read.
The law was introduced into the legislature as A-1635/S-619. It was designed to permit health care practitioners to initially authorize any qualifying patient for the medical use of cannabis via telemedicine, as long as the use of telehealth/telemedicine is consistent with the standard of care required for in-person assessment and treatment.
After the initial authorization, practitioners may decide whether to continue authorizing the medical cannabis via telehealth/telemedicine or to require an in-person consultation.
“This law will utilize today’s technology to help provide easier access to this beneficial medication on behalf of the people who need it the most,” they said.
Marijuana Telemedicine Enactment
Marijuana telemedicine was previously allowed as an emergency measure by the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) to cope with the pandemic.
Its passage to become permanent was fraught with issues. Initially, patients would have had to go back to their doctor for an in-person appointment to get their medical cannabis re-authorized. Murphy vetoed its first passage for that reason. The legislature relented and passed it again.
It was sponsored in the Senate by Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth), a championed of the Jake Honig Act.
“Digital authorization will enable qualified medical cannabis patients who are medically fragile and homebound to mitigate their suffering,” he said. “Those who are terminally ill, in hospice care, confined to long-term care facilities, developmentally disabled, or certified homebound could benefit from easier access to prescriptions.
“Technology that has significantly changed the medical industry can help improve the everyday health and wellness of New Jersey residents who rely on medical cannabis to alleviate pain and treat medical conditions,” O’Scanlon added.
Many have come to enjoy marijuana telemedicine as it leaves the hassle one has to make to go somewhere that might not be pleasant. Those who are disabled and have great difficulty moving will likely welcome permanent marijuana telemedicine.
“Medical cannabis can be an effective treatment for an ever-expanding list of conditions, even replacing highly addictive opioid medications for some people,” said O’Scanlon.
There are about 111,000 patients in New Jersey’s medical cannabis program.