O’Scanlon Bill Allowing Electronic Authorization for Medical Cannabis for Patients Passes Senate

Insider NJ's Jay Lassiter argues that while cannabis legalization in NJ is a long way away, expunging the records of people unfairly harmed by the war on drugs so that they can more meaningfully contribute to our shared society should be more important to lawmakers right now.

O’Scanlon Bill Allowing Electronic Authorization for Medical Cannabis for Patients Passes Senate

Senator Declan O’Scanlon’s legislation to expand access to authorized medical cannabis through telemedicine has passed the New Jersey Senate.

“Those who rely on medical cannabis to treat their conditions will benefit from more convenient and less expensive digital doctors’ appointments,” said O’Scanlon (R-13). “Utilizing available technology is a practical approach that will improve the health and wellness of eligible New Jersey residents.”

O’Scanlon’s bill, S-619, would allow doctors to authorize medical cannabis for a patient electronically.

“We know medical cannabis is an effective drug that can be effective in for an ever-expanding list of conditions, even replacing highly addictive opioid medications for some people,” O’Scanlon added. “Telemedicine is the ‘healthcare of the future,’ increasing access to quality, cost-effective medical care and treatment through modern digital technology. The needs of patients who can benefit from medical cannabis can be better served electronically, eliminating the burden of some needless office visits or the need to call out sick from work to visit doctors’ offices.”

Under the bill, for the first nine months after enactment, a health care practitioner may electronically authorize medical cannabis for patients who are terminally ill, in hospice care, residents of long-term care facilities, developmentally disabled, or certified homebound.

After the initial 270 days, a practitioner could provide authorization for any patient, provided they have had at least one previous in-office visit.

O’Scanlon has been an outspoken supporter of medical marijuana expansion. Last year, his legislation, known as the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act, was signed into law. This legislation was named after seven-year-old Jake Honig of Howell, New Jersey, who passed away after battling cancer.

“Brave, beautiful Jake benefitted tremendously from medical marijuana. His legacy paved the way for the expansion of the medical program. That legacy lives on, influencing this law too!” O’Scanlon concluded.

New Jersey’s Division of Medicinal Marijuana currently serves over 68,000 patients.

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