Senate Endorses Governor’s Recommendations for O’Scanlon Bill Allowing Electronic Authorization for Medical Cannabis Patients

Senate Endorses Governor’s Recommendations for O’Scanlon Bill Allowing Electronic Authorization for Medical Cannabis Patients

Legislation sponsored by Senator Declan O’Scanlon that would allow patients to be authorized for medical marijuana by telemedicine received final legislative approval Thursday.

“This will establish a more convenient process for New Jersey residents who rely on medical cannabis to alleviate pain and treat their medical conditions,” said O’Scanlon (R-13). “When advisable, medical practitioners will be able to prescribe therapeutic marijuana electronically, without requiring an in-office visit with the patients.

“Technology that has significantly changed the medical industry will improve the everyday health and wellness of eligible New Jersey residents.”

O’Scanlon’s bill, S-619, passed both houses of the Legislature overwhelmingly, but was conditionally vetoed by the Governor in April.

During Thursday’s session, the Senate accepted the Governor’s recommendations by a vote of 37-1.

“Medical cannabis can be an effective treatment for an ever-expanding list of conditions, even replacing highly addictive opioid medications for some people,” said O’Scanlon. “Telemedicine is the ‘healthcare of the future,’ increasing access to quality, cost-effective medical care and treatment through modern digital technology. Combined, these advancements can better meet the health needs of some patients by eliminating the burden of difficult and inconvenient office visits or the need to miss a day of work.”

As adapted by the Governor’s recommendations, the bill now allows practitioners to require in-person visits either as part of the initial consultation or the continued authorization when the practitioner determines a face-to-face visit is necessary for a particular patient.

“Digital authorization will enable qualified medical cannabis patients who are medically fragile and homebound to mitigate their suffering,” said O’Scanlon. “Those who are terminally ill, in hospice care, confined to long-term care facilities, developmentally disabled, or certified homebound could benefit from easier access to prescriptions.”

Senator O’Scanlon has been an outspoken supporter of medical marijuana expansion. In July 2019, his legislation, known as the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act, was signed into law. This legislation was named after 7-year-old Jake Honig of Howell, who passed away after battling cancer.

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

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