Legislators in New Jersey have passed a law that allows care providers to prescribe medical marijuana using telehealth.
The legislation, S619, which was approved last week by the Assembly allows healthcare providers to prescribe medical cannabis through linked health channels to specific patients who have a hard time acquiring in-person care. This includes persons who are house bound, in hospice care, the terminally ill, children who are residents of long-term care facilities or patients that are developmentally disabled. Other patients will require an in-person consultation before advancing to a telemedicine channel.
State Assembly members who sponsored the bill, Joann Downey and Pamela Lampitt, stated in a press release after the vote that many medical cannabis patients suffered from various conditions that limited their mobility, which made frequent doctor visits a barrier to the medicine they required. They added that these patients were among the most vulnerable patients who had their medical cannabis access restricted by the in-person renewal of their prescription at the doctor’s office.
The legislators added that the muscle relaxation, pain relief, anxiety reduction and nausea prevention that medical cannabis provided to these patients was too important to these people who suffered from various serious medical conditions to be obstructed by the in-person doctor visit requirement.
The main purpose of the bill that was passed was to use today’s technology to provide easier access to this helpful medication, on behalf of those who needed it the most.
This bill, which was reintroduced again in spring after its debut earlier last year, now awaits Governor Phil Murphy’s signature. For now, the State of New Jersey is making preparations for a referendum vote on the legalization of marijuana for adult use that will be conducted later this year.
While New Jersey has extended their rules to improve the accessibility and coverage of telehealth, other states like Colorado, Virginia, Illinoi, Washington and Arkansas have drafted a telehealth bill that bans providers from dispensing or providing medical cannabis through a virtual visit. New York on the other hand allows the use of telehealth without any earlier meeting while states like Hawaii and New Mexico only allow telehealth to be used after the patient and the provider have met in person.
The state of California also took a gentle approach to telehealth, having legalized medical cannabis in 1996 and developing the market into the multi-million-dollar industry we know today.
It is widely believed that companies like Pure Extract Technologies Inc. are glad that New Jersey has been progressive in passing reforms that make it easier for those in need to access medical cannabis.
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