CERI Calls Decision A Win for Patients
PENNINGTON, New Jersey — August 13, 2020 — The Cannabis Education and Research Institute (CERI) applauded the state’s decision to expand telemedicine to patients who are relying on medicinal marijuana for debilitating medical conditions during the global pandemic.
CERI advocated for the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs to waive the requirement for in-person medical evaluations when providers authorize medicinal marijuana for patients, such as those with cancer, epilepsy, and other serious conditions.
“We are thankful to Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and the Division of Consumer Affairs for this decision,” said David Knowlton, Chair and CEO of CERI. “During the pandemic, people who manage their chronic conditions with medicinal marijuana could not always get the medication they needed. We need to be clearing roadblocks, not creating them, especially now.”
The administrative order temporarily waives regulatory requirements for in-person medical evaluations when providers authorize medical marijuana.
Under New Jersey’s Medicinal Marijuana Program, physicians must be in touch with their patients every 90 days. Many patients with debilitating conditions or who are immune-compromised or older would be safer engaging with their providers virtually. In fact, more than half of the 17 qualifying conditions for medicinal marijuana involve compromised immunity, a significant co-morbidity for COVID-19.
In a letter to the Paul Rodriguez, Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, CERI general counsel Christina Woodward Strong said pain and lack of mobility are two of the major symptoms leading people to seek medicinal cannabis — major barriers to health care access even absent the current public health crisis.
“During these times, denying access to telemedicine is the same thing as denying access to care,” Strong wrote.
CERI supports maintaining access to telemedicine for medicinal cannabis post-pandemic.
“There is no medical reason it should not continue,” Knowlton said. “The objective should be increased access for those with a definitive need.”
CERI’s mission is to advance unbiased, evidence-based research on the medicinal use of cannabis and to share reliable information to help people with a variety of debilitating conditions. CERI also advocates for the needs of medicinal marijuana patients.
“We hope this ruling will encourage more New Jersey physicians to join the Medicinal Marijuana Program so they can help more patients who may benefit from this natural medicine,” Knowlton said.
New Jersey’s medicinal marijuana programs serves more than 80,000 patients. Medical providers who wish to authorize patients to use medicinal marijuana for conditions resistant to conventional methods and medicine must register with the state’s Medical Marijuana Program.