NJ: Medical Marijuana Measure Named For Howell Child Advanced By Assembly Panel

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Legislation Assembly Democrats Joann Downey, Eric Houghtaling (both D-Monmouth) and Jamel Holley (D-Union) sponsored to expand access to medical marijuana was advanced on April 5 by an Assembly panel.

The bill is designated “Jake Honig’s Law” in honor of Jake Honig, a Howell resident who, at the age of 2, was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer with a rare genetic mutation, according to a press release.

After undergoing dozens of rounds of chemotherapy, proton radiation therapy and surgery, Jake’s tumor went into remission for four years, until follow-up scans determined the tumor had returned and spread to other parts of his body, according to the press release.

Jake’s doctors advised his parents there was nothing more to be done and he was released to hospice care in his home, where, despite being prescribed six different medications to treat his symptoms, medical marijuana proved to be the most effective way of stopping his nausea, vomiting, agitation and acid reflux, and improving his mood, stimulating his appetite, and restoring his mental well-being, according to the press release.

Jake, 7, died on Jan. 21. Downey was joined by the Honig family as the committee advanced the bill on April 5.

“Although medical marijuana proved to be an effective treatment for Jake, his parents noted the difficulties they encountered with the cost, quantity limits, and issues related to producing their own cannabis oil to administer to Jake,” Downey said.

“In honor of Jake,  this bill seeks to remove certain restrictions on access to medical marijuana in order to reduce the suffering experienced by, and improve the quality of life of, New Jersey patients, like Jake, seeking treatment for a life-threatening medical condition,” she said.

“There are many patients like Jake and his family in New Jersey who deserve expanded access to medical marijuana a part of their medicinal regimen,” Houghtaling said. “They must also have access to other types of products, not just in capsule form.”

“We need to put the patient in control,” Holley said. “Our priority needs to be the care of patients, not over-regulation.”

Specifically, the bill (A-3421) revises state law to include additional debilitating medical conditions that will authorize a patient for use of medical marijuana. The bill was advanced by the Assembly Appropriations Committee, according to the press release.