New Jersey Panel Recommends 40 More Conditions for Medical Marijuana Coverage

Medical marijuana has been legal in New Jersey for nearly 7 years, but only patients with a handful of conditions are allowed to purchase cannabis products. But that may be changing soon, if one of the state's medical boards has anything to say.

The New Jersey Medicinal Marijuana Review Panel released its first ever report about the state's program, and the highlight was a list of 43 conditions they recommend for coverage under the law. The recommendations covered a wide swath of conditions, including chronic pain, Alzheimer's, autism and anxiety. 

Under current New Jersey law, only patients with a handful of severe conditions, such as terminal cancer, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis, are allowed to purchase medical marijuana. It's considered one of the most restrictive of the 29 states that allow medicinal marijuana. Only 13,000 patients have enrolled in New Jersey's program.

“The decision as to who qualifies doesn’t seem to be rooted in the science, and seems to be arbitrary and politicized,” New Jersey resident Amanda Hoffman told the panel.

The panel recommended the 43 new conditions by a vote of 5-1, but the decision on whether or not to expand the medical marijuana program rests with the state's health commissioner. Experts believe the commissioner may not make a decision for up to several months, meaning New Jersey will continue its highly restrictive program until then.

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Before Nikki Furrer was a cannabis writer and professional, she had another dream job: owning an independent bookstore. While she says her business venture as a bookseller was ultimately untenable, it did open her eyes to how much she enjoys “matching the reader to the exact book they’re craving.” This zest for matchmaking is evident in her book 'A Woman’s Guide to Cannabis.' As the title suggests, 'A Woman’s Guide to Cannabis' is for women who are curious about cannabis. A more appropriate title, however, might have been a 'A Beginner’s Guide to Cannabis.' Though Furrer touches on applications for the plant that are specific to women—relief of menstrual pain or beauty (though her belief that cannabis is a beauty product because it makes you appear more well-rested seems relevant to both men and women—much of the information in the book is relevant to anyone who is totally inexperienced with cannabis, apprehensive about trying it and needs a run down of the basics.

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