New Jersey Health Commissioner Pitches Marijuana to Doctors

New Jersey's lead health official wants to “demystify” marijuana use for state health professionals. Shereef Elnahal, the state health commissioner, pitched the drug to hundreds of doctors and medical leaders at Hackensack University Medical Center on Wednesday.

Elnahal addressed the most common concerns doctors have about accessing marijuana and prescribing it to patients. He outlined recent policy changes that provide increased access to marijuana and discussed the growing list of accepted medical conditions for which medical marijuana can be prescribed in New Jersey.

During his talk at the University, Elnahal encouraged state doctors to consider the drug as a legitimate treatment option. He noted that while it may not be the first course of treatment, it should be an option when other treatments fail.

The list of conditions approved for treatment with medical marijuana in New Jersey was recently expanded to include chronic pain, migraines, anxiety, and Tourette's syndrome. The drug was already available for patients with Multiple Sclerosis, seizure disorders, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder, cancer, and HIV/AIDS.

New Jersey's new governor ran on a pro-legalization platform. Since Gov. Phil Murphy stepped into office, the number of registered marijuana patients in the state has nearly doubled to reach 25,000. As Elnahal informed the doctors at the forum, half of those patients are over 50-years-old.

The health commissioner also shared his personal opinion that hospitals would allow patients to bring in their own medical marijuana and “self-administer.” Hospitals would that are not allowed to administer the drug would not have to allow patients to smoke but could allow them to take marijuana in the form of a lozenge, Elnahal suggested.

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