Gov. Phil Murphy has conditionally vetoed a bill that would allow patients to receive authorization for medical marijuana in telehealth visits, asking lawmakers to instead pass a measure that further expands telemedicine access. Murphy sent the bill (S619) back to the Legislature with recommended changes Monday, saying he found it too restrictive for patients. As is, the bill would allow some of the most vulnerable patients, including those on hospice, in long-term care or with developmental disabilities, to get authorization for medical marijuana via a virtual doctor’s appointment in the nine months following the law’s signing. Other patients could get an initial telehealth authorization, but would then need to see a doctor in person once per year to keep it active.
The state Department of Health announced Thursday it has issued a waiver that allows for home delivery.
“The Department continues to prioritize patient access during this unprecedented pandemic,” Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said in a statement. “This new waiver will allow [alternative treatment centers], once they have submitted a plan to the Department for approval, to deliver across the state.”
Jake Honig’s Law, which Gov. Phil Murphy signed last summer to expand the state’s medical marijuana program, included provisions for home delivery. But the service never launched.
But when hours-long lines backed up dispensaries in March, the program began to talk about ways it could better serve patients — many of whom have pre-existing conditions that make them vulnerable — in the midst of a public health crisis.
Since then, the dispensaries have enacted new hygiene and social distancing policies, and some even offer curbside pickup and online appointments to avoid close contact with others.