Chris Christie Approves Medical Marijuana for Children

Supporters of medical marijuana believe that the law is still too strict. 

Posted: 08/19/2013 01:04 PM EDT

In a surprise move, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey announced last week that he would sign a bill that would allow for children suffering from an array of illnesses to use medical marijuana. New Jersey already allowed for adults with chronic illnesses to use the drug, and this would expand the existing law.

The bill allows for marijuana dispensaries to carry more than the allowed three strains of marijuana to include an edible form of the drug that is more child-friendly.

In a press release, Christie talked about what led him to this decision:

"As I have repeatedly noted, I believe that parents, and not government regulators, are best suited to decide how to care for their children... Protection of our children remains my utmost concern, and my heart goes out to those children and their families who are suffering with serious illnesses."

However, Christie sent the bill back with restrictions including that in order for sick children to have access to medical marijuana, they must have a psychiatrist and a pediatrician sign off on a prescription. And one of the doctors must be hooked to a state program; if not, they would have to find a third doctor who is, reported CBS.com.

While medical marijuana advocates are happy with this development, they worry that these extra steps will make sick children have to wait longer for the drugs that they really need.

New Jersey is one of 18 other states that allows for qualifying children to use medical marijuana, but one important question on many minds is, “How safe is medical marijuana for kids?”

Despite parents hailing marijuana’s usefullness for their sick kids, we don’t really know the answer.

There aren’t any studies that show any long-term effects that the drug can have on kids, NBC.com writes. Yet, recently, BET.com wrote about a commentary that warns parents and doctors of the potential harm that the medicinal form of the drug can have on children in chronic pain. Researchers from the Mayo Clinic emphasized that more research needs to be done and that medical marijuana can lead to cognitive issues, fatigue and antisocial behavior. 

Read more about medical marijuana and what it’s used for at drugpolicy.org.

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(Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

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