Gov. Murphy orders review of medical marijuana program

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(@GovMurphy/Twitter) With the signing of his sixth executive order, Gov. Phil Murphy ordered his administration to review New Jersey's medical marijuana program, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018. (@GovMurphy/Twitter) With the signing of his sixth executive order, Gov. Phil Murphy ordered his administration to review New Jersey's medical marijuana program, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018.
TRENTON -

Gov. Phil Murphy is ordering his administration to review New Jersey's medical marijuana program, which he says has been stifled over the past eight years.

The governor signed an executive order on Tuesday. He says the program has been difficult to access and the state will not deny compassionate care to people any longer.

Jean Lucas says that medical marijuana has been a life-changer for her 9-year-old son Mikey. The boy has multiple disabilities, including severe epilepsy.

Lucas says that she gives Mikey 4 milliliters of ‘grape ape’ medical marijuana that she makes into an edible form using coconut oil.

“We started giving it to him and it’s as if we have a different boy,” she says. “He climbs stairs, he crawls, he talks on his iPad. It’s a whole new world. He could be outside. He could never be outside without seizing.”

Lucas says that it costs about $800 a month to buy the medical marijuana and about 15 hours to prepare. She says that it is a struggle for many patients to get access to marijuana.

Murphy didn't cite former Gov. Chris Christie by name, but he faulted the previous administration for overseeing a program "in name only."

Murphy says he's asking state government to focus on expanding the medical marijuana program and proposing new rules or repealing those that hamper the program.

“Patients have to abandon the doctors they have a bona fide patient-relationship with and seek out one of the doctors in the program and they have to pay for that out of pocket,” says Coalition for Medical Marijuana executive director Ken Walski.

Advocates say that some ways to improve the medical marijuana program would be to allow all doctors to recommend medical marijuana and to even allow patients to grow it at home.

“Grow your own, I know that's pushing it but it really would help delivery,” Lucas says. “There's a lot of people that need it.”

The New Jersey Department of Health and the Board of Medical Examiners are directed to complete their review of the medical marijuana program within 60 days under Murphy’s order. They are also being told to offer recommendations for improving it.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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