N.J. to Expand Medical Marijuana, Ease Prescriptions by Doctors

(Bloomberg) -- Governor Phil Murphy said he will expand New Jersey’s medical-marijuana rules to add pain, anxiety, migraines and other chronic conditions as eligible for prescriptions.

Patient registration fees will be halved, to $100, and regular physicians, rather than a limited pool, will be allowed to submit qualifying patients’ names to a state registry. Lawmakers, though, must set regulations for which doctors could prescribe the drug.

“The days of making residents jump through hoops are coming to an end,” Murphy, a Democrat elected to replace Republican Chris Christie in January, said Tuesday at a news conference in Trenton.

Murphy, 60, has prioritized expanded marijuana use for medical and recreational purposes. Christie reluctantly permitted patients with certain conditions to use cannabis, citing concerns about addiction, crime and conflicts with federal law, which prohibits the drug.

While New Jersey’s rules changed little during his eight years, other states expanded qualifying conditions to include such conditions as arthritis, psoriasis and post-concussion syndrome.

Effective immediately, New Jersey will allow five more medical conditions -- anxiety, migraines, Tourette’s syndrome, and chronic musculoskeletal and visceral pain -- to be eligible for marijuana prescriptions. Murphy said he also will follow through with the findings of a panel he convened that recommended the state should have licensee classes for cultivating, processing and dispensing.

New Jersey has 18,574 patients, 536 physicians and 869 caregivers registered in its medical marijuana program, a figure that Murphy’s office was much smaller than in other states.

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