Chris Christie

New Jersey: Parents Say Medical Marijuana Brought Back Their Daughter's Ability To Speak

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A New Jersey family says that medical marijuana brought back their daughter's ability to speak.

According to parents Shawnea and Ernie Estrella, brain surgery and severe, repeated seizures took away their 22-year-old daughter Sara's speech for 17 years, reports New Jersey News 12. Sara has Lennox Gastaut Synedrome, or LGS, which results in severe seizures.

Over the past month, Shawnea and Ernie said medical marijuana brought back Sara's voice. She started on cannabis on June 27. Her seizures decreased drastically, going 48 hours seizure-free at a time.

"We decreased one of her medications, Depakote, by 750 milligrams a day," Shawnea said. "She is more alert and happy than she's been in a long time. Her appetite is increased and she is up to 95 pounds."

According to her parents, Sara hadn't spoken since her brain surgery at age 5, then for the first time in 17 years, used two words, "no" and "out." "I think she's working on a third: 'home,'" Shawnea said.

The Estrellas said they hope to someday get access to pills and oils, because even with Sara's medical marijuana recommendation, they have to concentrate marijuana into oil, a process which can take hours.

U.S.: Christie Says He Wouldn't Treat Marijuana States Well As President

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said on Friday that states which have legalized marijuana "probably" wouldn't be treated well if he is elected President.

The governor was campaigning with New Hampshire GOP gubernatorial candidate Walt Havenstein when he was asked by Brinck Slattery, a Republican running for state representative: "I know that you have some ambitions for D.C., perhaps. If you were President, how would you treat states that have legalized marijuana?"

"Probably not well," Christie responded, walking away from the conversation, reports Matt Ferner at The Huffington Post. "Not well, but we'll see. We'll have to see what happens." Christie's statement was captured in a video shot by Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project.

"It's one thing for Governor Christie to say he doesn't like what's happening in Colorado; quite another thing for him to threaten federal interference if he became President," Slattery said.

"Widely and generally speaking, that reflects his philosophy on marijuana, legalization and restrictions for medically based programs," said Michael Drewniak, Christie's press secretary, of the governor's comment.

Twenty-three states have legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes, with New York being the latest; Colorado and Washington have legalized recreational use as well. Alaska votes on legalization in August.

New Jersey: Gov. Christie Says Medical Marijuana 'A Front For Legalization'

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

If there was any doubt in anyone's mind about just how ignorant New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is when it comes to medicinal cannabis, the big guy has put those doubts to rest. Following reports that patient enrollment in the state's medical marijuana program is low (due largely to his own foot-dragging and ineffective implementation), Christie called the New Jersey program and others like it across the nation "a front for legalization."

The New Jersey Legislature passed the state's medical marijuana law back in 2009, and former Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat, signed it just before he left office. The Christie Administration, since then, has been notably slow in implementing the program; the first dispensary didn't open until December 2012, reports Brent Johnson at The Star-Ledger.

Only 2,342 patients have signed up for New Jersey's medical marijuana program, after initial predictions had estimated tens of thousands of patients might be helped. Last week, the president and CEO of Compassionate Care Foundation, Inc., in Egg Harbor -- one of only three operational dispensaries in the state -- announced he is quitting because, he said, he couldn't keep working for no pay.

New Jersey: Medical Marijuana Program Struggling Under Rigid Rules, High Costs

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

When New Jersey's medical marijuana law was being written and passed, it was often boasted that it was "the strictest in the nation," as if serving fewer patients was somehow something to brag about. Now, after initial predictions that the program could serve tens of thousands of patients, only 2,342 have signed up, a participation rate so small some worry about the future of the program.

Lawmakers, some dispensary operators and patients blame the low enrollment on New Jersey's strict rules, high costs for both patients and growers, and Governor Chris Christie's barely concealed hostility to the program, including his contention that he doesn't need to do anything to boost participation, reports Susan K. Livio at The Star-Ledger.

One major roadblock, according to almost everyone involved, is that so few physicians in New Jersey are willing to authorize patients for medical marijuana.

"We have a dysfunctional program, and I think it's going to take some sort of 'pot summit' bringing together patients, doctors and legislators to really make this a success," said Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer), one of the lead sponsors of the law.

New Jersey: Gov. Christie Says He Opposes Bill To Legalize Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Wednesday emphasized that he is against any effort to legalize marijuana in the state, weeks after a state senator introduced a bill that would make sale and possession of cannabis legal.

"I'm not going to do that on my watch," the GOP governor told a crowd of about 500 at Winston Churchill Elementary School, reports Brent Johnson at The Star-Ledger. "I'm just not. I don't think it's the right thing to do for our state."

State Senator Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) last month introduced a bill that would regulate the cultivation, possession and sale of recreational marijuana, providing new tax revenue for the state.

"It's time to update our archaic drug laws and get real about the detrimental effects they are having on the lives of residents in New Jersey," Scutari said.

A Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press poll released on Wednesday showed that nearly 60 percent of New Jersey adults believe alcohol and tobacco are more risky than marijuana. But residents are still split on whether to legalize, with 48 percent in favor of allowing adults to buy small amounts, and 47 percent opposed.

Christie, who has his eye on the White House in 2016, has long said he is against relaxing the marijuana laws because that would "the wrong message" to kids.

U.S.: Top GOP Presidential Hopefuls Declare Commitment to Drug Policy Reform

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Rick Perry, Chris Christie Join Barack Obama, Kofi Annan and Juan Manuel Santos in Denouncing Current Drug Policy This Week

Politicians from Both Sides of Aisle Support Change

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

President Barack Obama may have said this week that marijuana is no more harmful than alcohol, but the Republican Party appears determined not to be outflanked by the Democrats on the issue of cannabis law reform.

Rick Perry, Republican governor of Texas who ran for the presidency in 2012 and is widely expected to consider a run in 2016, repeatedly recognized state governments’ right to legalize marijuana and touted his implementation of “policies that start us toward a decriminalization” in a drug policy reform panel at the World Economic Forum Thursday.

Perry joins New Jersey governor Chris Christie, another expected candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential primary, who also noted his commitment to drug policy reform this week, saying “We will end the failed war on drugs that believes that incarceration is the cure of every ill caused by drug abuse” in his second inaugural address Tuesday.

New Jersey: Gov. Christie Says 'We Will End the Failed War On Drugs'

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Embattled Governor, Fighting 'Bridgegate' Allegations, Calls for Alternatives to Incarceration and Expanded Drug Treatment

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Governor Chris Christie on Tuesday took the oath of office for a second term and delivered his inaugural address at the War Memorial in Trenton. During his inaugural address he called for an end to the drug war and compassion for those suffering from drug addiction.

Drug policy reform advocates applauded the Governor's remarks, even as cynics derided Christie for what they called a desperate attempt to draw public attention away from the Bridgegate scandal, which is threatening to derail Christie's Presidential ambitions. Christie had been the front-runner for the GOP nomination for President until the scandal broke recently.

Christie's sudden conversion to Drug War reformer is particularly startling, coming as it does after four solid years of obstructionism and foot-dragging when it comes to New Jersey's medical marijuana program, signed into law by Christie's predecessor, Gov. Jon Corzine, on Corzine's last day in office. Many patients have been left in the lurch by Christie's neglect of, and active opposition to, the program.

New Jersey: Family Who Fought For Medical Marijuana For 2-Year-Old Daughter Moves To Colorado

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

After a long, hard battle for access to the medical marijuana which could help their 2-1/2-year-old daughter, Vivian, Brian and Meghan Wilson are finally giving up and moving to Colorado.

The family of the New Jersey toddler who became a symbol in a drive to change the state's medical marijuana laws this year is leaving the state to gain safe access for their child after Gov. Chris Christie gruffly refused to sign a bill which would have done so, saying "He's done" expanding medical access to cannabis in "his state."

The Wilsons say they're heading to Colorado because once there, they can buy an edible form of Charlotte's Web, a high-CBD strain of cannabis they believe will help Vivian with her severe epileptic seizures due to Dravet syndrome.

Vivian has a medical marijuana card (after getting the approval of three doctors) and is New Jersey's youngest registered patient. But all three dispensaries currently operating in the state only sell cannabis in smokable form, reports Jan Hefler at the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The Wilsons were leaders in a successful push earlier this year for an initial expansion of New Jersey's medical marijuana law, allowing the sale of more medicinal cannabis strains and edible forms for minors in the state. But after that expansion still didn't result in access to the CBD oil Vivian needs, the Wilsons are calling it quits and moving.

New Jersey: Assembly Committee Votes To Expand Medical Marijuana Program Again

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A New Jersey Assembly committee on Thursday voted to allow medical marijuana patients in the state to buy cannabis in other states.

The bill, A-4537, passed the Assembly Health Committee by a vote of 7-4 after a brief hearing, reports Susan K. Livio at The Star-Ledger. But Governor Chris Christie has already said he is "done expanding the medical marijuana program under any circumstances" when asked if he would sign the bill.

The bill would allow registered New Jersey medical marijuana patients to possess marijuana legally obtained from other states' programs. Patients registered with other state medical marijuana programs would have reciprocity, meaning they would also be allowed to use their medicine in New Jersey, according to the bill.

New Jersey patients would be required to buy forms of cannabis that conform to the state's medical marijuana requirements, and would not be allowed to exceed the amounts authorized by their doctor.

The idea for A-4537 came from Meghan and Brian Wilson of Scotch Plains, whose 2-1/2-year-old daughter Vivian is battling Dravet syndrome, a form of drug-resistant epilepsy which causes violent seizures. The Wilsons had hoped to be able to obtain the marijuana strain Charlotte's Web, which contains high levels of CBD, found to quell seizures. It is produced in edible form by a Colorado grower, and does not produce a "high."

New Jersey: Gov. Christie Refuses To Sign Bill Expanding Medical Marijuana Program

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Tuesday told reporters he is "not open" to expanding the state's medical marijuana law, claiming that such efforts are just a back door to legalizing cannabis for everyone.

"See, this is what happens," Gov. Christie said, reports Susan K. Livio at The Star-Ledger. "Every time you sign one expansion, then the advocates will come back and ask for another one," Christie said from his statehouse office Tuesday afternoon.

"Here's what the advocates want: They want legalization of marijuana in New Jersey," Gov. Christie said. "It will not happen on my watch, ever. I am done expanding the medical marijuana program under any circumstances. So we're done."

"What they want is legalization," Christie said. "They're not getting legalization under this governor."

The idea for the bill to expand New Jersey's medical marijuana program had come from Meghan and Brian Wilson of Scotch Plains, who had already waged a successful battle to loosen restrictions which kept their 2-1/2-year-old daughter, Vivian, from getting the forms of cannabis needed to relieve her severe epilepsy. The Wilsons had hoped they could grow a high-CBD strain of marijuana that has been shown to reduce the frequency and severity of seizures in children.

New Jersey: Youngest Medical Marijuana Patient, 2, Finally Gets Her Turn

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New Jersey's youngest medical marijuana patient, two-and-a-half-year-old Vivian Wilson, left the Compassionate Care Foundation medicinal cannabis dispensary Monday in a stroller, holding a stuffed toy dog, with her parents Brian and Meghan Wilson of Scotch Plains.

It was a moment to remember for the dispensary, which finally opened on Monday, nearly four years after the state passed its medical marijuana law, reports Susan K. Livio at The Star-Ledger. It was perhaps an even more important moment for the Wilsons and for other families with critically ill children in New Jersey.

Monday marked the first time a New Jersey family was able to buy the form of marijuana that in other states has helped quell the severe seizures that have stunted Vivian Wilson's development, and could take her life. Vivian has a rare and dangerous form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome, and conventional medicine just hasn't helped much.

New Jersey: Gov. Christie Signs Bill Increasing Children's Access To Medical Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has signed a law which changes New Jersey's medical marijuana program with the aim of getting sick children forms of cannabis which could help them.

Gov. Christie signed the bill on Tuesday, one day after the changes he suggested were adopted by the New Jersey Assembly, reports The Associated Press.

The law ends a restriction on medical marijuana dispensaries that had limited them to growing just three different strains of cannabis. It also allows them to produce edibles containing marijuana, but only for sale to children with qualifying conditions and a physician's authorization.

Legislators had decided to ditch the requirement that children get at least two doctors to approve their medical marijuana usage. But the governor used a conditional veto to eliminate that change.

Both chambers of the Legislature accepted the bill as revised by Christie.

"I'm pleased the legislature accepted my recommendations so that suffering children can get the treatment they need," said Christie, who has an eye on a 2016 White House run. "I've said all along that protection of our children remains my utmost concern, and this new law will help sick kids access the program while also keeping in place appropriate safeguards.

"Parents, not government bureaucrats, are best suited to decide how to care for their children, and this law advances that important principle," Christie said.

New Jersey: Assembly Overwhelmingly Approves Medical Marijuana For Children

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A two-year-old New Jersey girl and other sick kids who qualify for medical marijuana are closer to getting the treatment they need after the New Jersey Assembly on Monday overwhelmingly approved changes in the regulations.

Vivian Wilson, a toddler who has a rare and severe form of epilepsy which causes multiple seizures every day, in February was issued a card qualifying her to get medical marijuana, but has faced a number of hurdles, including a ban on edible forms of cannabis, reports Jan Hefler at The Inquirer.

Lawmakers, moved by little Vivian's story, overwhelmingly passed a bill in June to reverse the ban on medibles and to make other changes making it easier for kids to get medicinal cannabis, but last month were asked to revisit the issue after Gov. Chris Christie attached specific recommendations to his veto.

A few weeks later, the New Jersey Senate approved the recommendations, and the Assembly on Monday followed suit with a 70-1 vote, with four abstentions.

The revised bill now returns to Gov. Christie's desk for his signature.

New Jersey: Gov. Christie Says Obama Administration Wrong Not To Challenge Legal Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

It's no wonder that New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie has been foot-dragging for years when it comes to implementation of his state's medical marijuana law, signed by his Democratic predecessor Jon Corzine on Corzine's last day in office: He really hates cannabis.

While speaking to a crowd in Point Pleasant, N.J., on Thursday, Gov. Christie said the Obama Administration's decision to not legally challenge marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington was "a mistake" that essentially legalizes cannabis, reports Susan K. Livio at The Star-Ledger. Christie vowed that "will never happen" in New Jersey while he is governor. But something tells me Christie doesn't have to worry about a second term.

Christie was responding to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's announcement that the Obama Administration would not challenge the decision by Colorado and Washington voters to legalize marijuana possession.

"Based on assurances that those states will impose an appropriately strict regulatory system, the Department is deferring its right to challenge the legalization laws at this time," the memo read. "Marijuana is and remains illegal under federal law."

Christie, a former U.S. Attorney, claimed Holder overstepped his authority.

New Jersey: Christie Conditionally Vetoes Bill Easing Children's Access to Medical Marijuana

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Governor Sends Bill Back to Legislature With Partial Veto

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Friday agreed to give chronically ill children easier access to medical marijuana, but he wouldn't sign a bill state lawmakers had sent to his desk to do exactly that. Christie, a Republican, conditionally vetoed the bill, saying "Parents, and not government regulators, are best suited to decide how to care for their children."

Gov. Christie claimed he agreed with provisions that allowed production of edible forms of marijuana at state-licensed dispensaries, and to allow the dispensaries to grow more than three strains of cannabis, reports The Associated Press. But he vetoed a part of the bill that would have dropped a requirement that both a psychiatrist and a pediatrician sign off before children are allowed medical marijuana, saying he wanted to "keep in some safeguards" for young patients.

The bill, minus the vetoed portion, now goes back to the New Jersey Legislature. If lawmakers make the changes the governor requested, it will become law.

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