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Murphy signs order to expand medical marijuana access

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Gov. Phil Murphy has signed an executive order directing states to find ways to expand patient access to medical marijuana.

In 2010, former Governor Chris Christie signed a law making it legal for marijuana to be prescribed to patients with conditions such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, muscle-control disorders and multiple sclerosis. It is just one of 29 states to make it legal for medical purposes.

“The roadblocks put in place by the past administration mean that the law’s spirit has been stifled,” Murphy said during the ceremonial signing of the order late Tuesday. “The system we have inherited can best be described as medical marijuana in name only.”

Critics of the law, however, said that it is too restrictive and does not allow enough patients to access it legally. The current law limits possession to two ounces per month, bans home delivery and only allows cannabis to be used for a limited number of conditions.

One of Murphy’s campaign promises was to make recreational use of marijuana legal in the state. His executive order was praised by groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, which also serves on the steering committee for New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform.

“The inequities we have seen in this system must end, but we also must not replicate them when legalizing marijuana for all,” said ACLU of New Jersey Executive Director Amol Sinha in a written statement. “The hurdles that patients face also underscore why it’s so important for any bill legalizing marijuana to allow for home-grow. Marijuana legalization is a matter of social justice, and equitable medical marijuana is a matter of patients’ civil rights – and those rights don’t go away with legalization.”

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Vince Calio

Vince Calio

Vince Calio covers health care and manufacturing for NJBIZ. You can contact him at vcalio@njbiz.com.

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