Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Chris Christie Approves Medical Marijuana for Children - with Some Conditions

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Chris Christie Approves Medical Marijuana for Children - with Some Conditions

Article excerpt

In a politically difficult decision, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie - for now, at least - has said he would allow the use of medical marijuana by children.

With certain conditions, he has approved a bill that would give chronically ill children easier access to some marijuana products for medical purposes. But he also stipulated that a psychiatrist and a pediatrician would have to give their approval first - something not included in the measure he sent back to the state legislature.

Especially for a Republican governor soon facing reelection - and frequently mentioned as one among an increasing number of 2016 GOP presidential hopefuls - Governor Christie has to carefully balance such issues.

Marijuana - recreational or medical - can be tricky for ambitious conservatives navigating the differences between party factions. Public attitudes are shifting in the direction of legalization with voters in Colorado and Washington State recently approving pot's recreational use. This weekend - just as Christie was announcing his decision on another issue involving marijuana - a three-day "Hempfest" marijuana festival was kicking off in Seattle.

In his decision announced Friday, Christie asserted that "parents, and not government regulators, are best suited to decide how to care for their children."

He also said, "My heart goes out to those children and their families who are suffering with serious illnesses."

"Today, I am making common-sense recommendations to this legislation to ensure sick children receive the treatment their parents prefer, while maintaining appropriate safeguards," he said. "I am calling on the Legislature to reconvene quickly and address these issues so that children in need can get the treatment they need."

Like the 19 other states that allow medical marijuana, New Jersey lets children use it. But unlike all but a few, the state law and regulations currently in place - considered perhaps the most stringent among states that allow medical pot at all - have additional hurdles for young patients. …

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