Medicinal Marijuana Program Now Serving 20,000 Patients

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NEW JERSEY – Governor Phil Murphy announced on May 1 that the New Jersey Medicinal Marijuana Program is now serving 20,000 patients.

Of those 20,000, 1,000 individuals have one of five new categories of medical conditions added in the past month; 500 have chronic pain, 400 have been diagnosed with anxiety, 90 suffer from migraines, 5 have Tourette’s Syndrome, and almost 900 caregivers are enrolled in the program who help patients who are unable, to obtain medicinal marijuana.

Over the last month, 1,500 patients have joined the program. Approximately 4,200 have joined since the Murphy Administration began on January 16.

“We’re adding 100 new patients every day,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal. “This demonstrates that there was pent up demand. People with chronic pain now have the option of medicinal marijuana instead of opioids, and more than 100 strains are available.”

In addition to the new patients, 600 physicians are now participating in the program. The Department also plans to produce a webinar and Dr. Elnahal will conduct grand rounds lectures later this spring for medical students, residents, physicians, nurses, faculty members and leaders at hospitals and medical schools around the state to help educate physicians through the program. Lectures will be held at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick; Hackensack Meridian Health Hackensack University Medical Center; and St. Joseph’s University Medical Center in Paterson.

The program has not only increased the number of patients serviced, but has also made changes to its services. The Department has added mobile access, lowered the biennial patient registration fee from $200 to $100 and added veterans and seniors to the list of those who qualify for the $20 discounted registration fee, in addition to those on government assistance.

The Department has also granted one Alternative Treatment Center (ATC) permission to expand its Bellmawr operation and five requests are pending from three ATCs for satellite locations.

Not only this, but the Department is also investing $50,000 into a public awareness campaign. The campaign intends to inform physicians and patients on the expanded medical conditions in the program. It will use paid social media, a radio Public Service Announcement from the Commissioner and online advertising, to spread the image of medical marijuana as an important medical therapy for pain relief and a tool to help reduce the likelihood that patients will rely on opioids.

For more information, email questions to MMPquestions@doh.nj.gov. For more information about medical marijuana in New Jersey, visit nj.gov/health/medicalmarijuana.

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Kimberly Bosco is the Assistant News Editor/Writer at Micromedia Publications. A recent graduate of Rutgers University, she has spent the last four years studying both English and Journalism Media Studies. Kimberly has also recently worked for both Visit.org Dialogues @RU as a writing and editing intern.