New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has signed a bill that will expand the state’s medical marijuana program.
Cannabis has been approved to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in New Jersey. But in order to obtain a physician’s recommendation to treat PTSD with medical cannabis, a patient will have to pursue conventional therapies first.
New Jersey becomes the 18th state to permit cannabis use for PTSD. Before the new bill, New Jersey’s list of qualifying conditions for cannabis included multiple sclerosis, terminal cancer, seizures, and other debilitating conditions.
Analysts were unsure if Mr. Christie was willing to approve PTSD as a qualifying condition. The governor has been walking a political tightrope for several years on legal cannabis. In 2014 on his monthly radio show, he said that medical cannabis programs across the country, including New Jersey’s, were “a front for legalization.” He also added that “there’s a huge demand for marijuana. Not medical marijuana.”
While campaigning for the Republican nomination for president last fall, the governor softened his approach.
“In New Jersey, we have medical marijuana laws, which I supported and implemented. … I’m not against medical marijuana. We do it in New Jersey. But I’m against the recreational use of marijuana,” he told audience members during the second GOP primary debate.
It is unclear whether Mr. Christie would have approved New Jersey’s medical cannabis program. In January of 2010 the law was signed by outgoing Governor Jon Corzine just days before Mr. Christie took office. In 2011 Mr. Christie was accused of dragging his feet on implementing the program. The advocacy group Drug Policy Alliance considered a lawsuit against the governor.
New Jersey may not be the only northeast state where legal cannabis is set to grow. Massachusetts and Maine will vote on whether to approve recreational cannabis in November. If passed, they would be the first states to approve recreational cannabis use in the northeast. Lawmakers in New York state have recently announced an expansion to the state’s medical marijuana program.