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In NJ, the medical marijuana program is broken by arduous regulations and restrictions which have been created with the intent to fail in the name of safety and protection of the public from cannabis. The process to safely obtain medical grade cannabis is costly and often times prohibitive with money, distance, and availability. Governor Christie views those in the program as whiners who want more and keep coming back and asking for more. When asked questions about the decisions he has made since 2010 concerning the program, he immediately goes into defensive mode and talks about legalization and other things completely unrelated to the question being posed. On April 3rd at a town hall meeting I advised the governor that my son Jackson had been kicked out of a hospital last spring. He scoffed at the mention of a hospital refusing cannabis patients.
Well, it has happened again. On May 15, Jackson was taken to Hackensack University Medical Center to seek a level of medical care not possible at home. When it was discovered in the ER that he was currently taking his cannabis medication the staff notified risk management through the proper channels. The following day, three friends wearing cannabis shirts came for a friendly visit. Security and risk management were notified. The nursing supervisor came in with her nose in the air smelling and he eyes roaming the room for cannabis. She repeated the instructions which had been made clear March 2013 when the hospital risk management made her deliver the news that cannabis is federally illegal and therefore not allowed as a treatment while in the hospital. Our choices once again were:
- Stay and receive the medical care necessary and cold-turkey stop the cannabis treatment.
- Leave the hospital AMA and continue with the cannabis treatment.
This time I asked for her to document and write those two options down and make the request official. I also asked for the written cannabis policy in NJ in accordance with the CUMMA (Compassionate Use of Medical Marijuana Act) guidelines. She went to ask Risk Management for both. A couple of hours later she returned and announced that risk management would not put anything in writing, and that Jackson was not permitted to use his cannabis medication in any form while in the hospital. Jackson cannot and was not going to stop taking the only effective medication he has taken in his 14 year life and that was made clear to the supervisor, who honestly, was only delivering the message from Risk Management. However, it was mentioned that if I did not agree to comply that the hospital could place a security guard in the room to ensure compliance with their unwritten policy.
No person, whether child or adult, should have to worry about being able to receive emergency medical care when necessary based on their enrollment in a state program granting safe access to medical cannabis for a disease which has not responded to 50+ drug combinations, 2 brain surgeries, a VNS implant, and multiple special diets.
There is currently a bill in the health committees in NJ (S1169/A2845) which needs to be heard and voted on. Senator Vitale is the lead legislator and has been notified of the possible solution in NJ which would allow cannabis to be treated as a medication when used as a medicinally through the NJ CUMMA.
Check the Press coverage below:
Daily Chronic discussing the first time in March 2013: http://www.thedailychronic.net/2014/30539/medical-marijuana-patient-protection-bills-reintroduced-in-new-jersey/
Town Hall Meeting with Gov Christie where I was able to ask a question and told him that Jaxs has been kicked out of the hospital in NJ last year: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DeJpDdG7e5M
Bergen Record Coverage May 2014: http://www.northjersey.com/news/relief-of-medical-marijuana-off-limits-at-n-j-hospitals-1.1022114
PBS News Coverage May 2014: http://www.njtvonline.org/news/video/medical-marijuana-not-permitted-in-hospitals/