New legislation scheduled for a vote in the full state Senate today would ensure patients also have the option of accessing medical marijuana through telemedicine, a growing health care segment that can be particularly useful for elderly individuals and others with limited mobility.
“A lot of people who use medicinal marijuana are pretty ill with cancer,” said Sen. Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth), the bill sponsor, by way of example. “Forcing them to go out of the house for treatment — there’s no sense.”
His bill, which passed the Senate health committee late last month, would ensure that any doctor or other clinician eligible to recommend medical cannabis could do so via video-conference or video messaging technology. (Audio-only and text messaging conversations are not considered appropriate for telemedicine under the state’s 2017 telemedicine law.)
O’Scanlon said he was concerned there might be gray areas in the telehealth and cannabis laws that could make providers and patients unsure if using telemedicine for marijuana is permitted in New Jersey, even though marijuana is now widely accepted to have legitimate medicinal value and used by a growing number of patients of all ages. “People need to understand the efficacy of cannabis is now established,” he said.