Downey Bill Expanding Patient Access to Medical Cannabis Signed Into Law

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP - Today in Freehold Township, Governor Murphy signed into law a bill introduced by Assemblywoman Joann Downey dramatically expanding patient access to medical cannabis, removing existing limits on the quantity of medical cannabis that patients can qualify for and expanding access to edible forms of cannabis, including oils.

“This moment is a victory for patients and families from every corner of our State, delivering medical justice to every person who has waited for this law to become a reality,” said Assemblywoman Joann Downey (D-Freehold), the law’s prime sponsor, as the bill (A-20) was signed Tuesday morning. “Jake’s Law is a win for compassion, for leadership, and for the quality of life of every person it benefits.”

The bill (A-20) revises state law to allow more patients with debilitating medical conditions to obtain access to medical cannabis. The bill would also rename existing medical cannabis law to the “Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act,” in honor of eight-year-old Howell Township resident Jake “The Tank” Honig, who battled a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer from the age of two and found effective relief from nausea, vomiting, and agitation in the form of medical cannabis.

“There are many patients like Jake and families like the Honigs in New Jersey,” said Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling (D-Neptune), who joined Downey in sponsoring the bill. “These much-needed changes come together to create a system of common-sense reforms that will make our laws kinder, more compassionate, and more supportive of those in need.”

For patients like Jake, who rely on cannabis to relieve debilitating pain, the new law expands the monthly limit from 2 to 2 ½ ounces right away, and to 3 ounces shortly afterward. For any patients receiving hospital care or with a terminal illness, the limit is abolished entirely.

Previously, patients were provided only unprocessed cannabis for treatment, requiring them to cook it down to an oil in their kitchen while guessing at the dosage of what they produce. Now, dispensaries can sell medical cannabis in many different forms, including topicals, edibles, and oils, which makes it much easier for families and providers to ensure that patients are receiving the right amount and type of treatment for their pain.

The Jake Honig Medical Marijuana Act also expands the types of diseases that can be treated with medical cannabis to a much broader list, expanding relief to thousands more chronic pain sufferers across New Jersey. Instead of needing to drive hours to a specific dispensary, patients will be able to purchase cannabis products from any registered medical dispensary or clinic, giving them much-needed flexibility and cutting down on obstacles to treatment.

“Jake Honig passed away last January, his fight with cancer coming to a final and tragic end,” Downey said. “But the passion, courage, and leadership of his parents have kept his spirit alive as they have fought for patients like him across every corner of our State. This new law is a win for compassion, for leadership, and for the quality of life of every person it benefits. For every little boy and girl in the hospital right now, wondering when their pain will stop, help is finally on the way.”


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