by James Devine
Gov. Chris Christie may have signed a death sentence for Vivian Wilson when he conditionally vetoed medical marijuana for minors, demanding approval of as many as three doctors while declaring “I believe that parents, and not government regulators, are best suited to decide how to care for their children.”
Vivian Wilson is a Scotch Plains two-year-old who suffers from Dravet syndrome, a condition with violent, life-threatening seizures that are not treatable by traditional methods.
Vivian’s parents worked hard to win approval of legislation allowing minors access to medical marijuana in forms that are suitable to children, but the Republican struck down legislation a day after the girl’s father pleaded with him for action as he visited the suburban Union County community to pick up an endorsement from Democratic Mayor Kevin Glover.
Signed in January 2010, the state’s medical marijuana law created one of the strictest programs in the nation.
Sen. Nicholas Scutari, who sponsored the original marijuana program said medical provisions in place to protect against abuse cannot be so restrictive that eligible patients still cannot access care.
Christie wants lawmakers to amend the law so that children would need to get consent from a pediatrician and a psychiatrist in addition to their treating doctor.
“Our number one priority is to provide relief from suffering for children like Vivian so we will take a close look at the Governor’s proposed changes to see if we can work with them to still accomplish that goal,” said Assemblywoman Linda Stender.
“It’s unfortunate that these families were forced to wait nearly two months while this legislation languished on the Governor’s desk and now he is prolonging their suffering by telling them they must wait even longer,” said Stender.
“I’m disappointed the Governor has delayed giving immediate relief to sick children and has put extra burdens on parents,” said Assemblyman Reed Gusciora. “I’m also disappointed his conditional veto means adults – particularly senior citizens – will not have access to edible and other forms of this relief. This bill was well-thought out and should have been signed.”
Sen. Joseph Vitale complained that the Republican Governor made the original medical marijuana law extremely difficult and he said Christie’s amendments will make compliance with the law more cumbersome.
“If he truly wants to help, he should have made it easier,” Vitale said. “I think (parent And doctors) can handle it.”
Saying medical decisions for minors are best made by parents, Christie’s conditional veto will require sick children to obtain approval of as many as three doctors.
Christie’s recommendations would require approval from a pediatrician a psychiatrist, and possibly a third doctor if one of the other two is not registered as part of the state medical marijuana program.
“Reading the governor’s statement, one might get the impression that Christie supports the bill he just vetoed.” wrote Steve Benen, a producer for The Rachel Maddow Show.
Since the state Legislature is not currently in session, it could be weeks or even months before action is taken to override or approve the conditional veto.
Christie’s suggested changes would lift restrictions on the strains of marijuana that can be cultivated and makes oral consumption of the drug available for children but this political delay could cost Vivian her life.
Vivian Wilson sleeps with a heart and oxygen monitor attached to her toe, and although a version of marijuana could alleviate Vivian’s suffering, she suffers frequent violent seizures, sometimes getting 20 to 70 mild seizures per day — while a severe paroxysm could kill her.
Only about 130 of 900 registered patients have been called in to buy marijuana from the one operating dispensary because supply is scarce.
RELATED STORY>>> Christie Conditionally Vetoes Medical Marijuana Bill
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