TRENTON — 12/06/13, The very same day Gov. Chris Christie puts the kibosh on growing the number of privileges a registered medical marijuana user can have, a baby lost her battle with a debilitating disease because she was not able to access the medical marijuana needed to survive, according to her parents.
On Monday, Christie vocally expressed his disapproval and refused to sign new legislation that would allow New Jersey state-registered medical marijuana patients to purchase their prescription pot in other legal states and bring it back to the Garden State.
“See this is what happens. Every time you sign one expansion, then the advocates will come back and ask for another one,” the governor said during a press conference on Monday. “Here’s what the advocates want: They want legalization of marijuana in New Jersey. It will not happen on my watch — ever. I am done expanding the medical marijuana program under any circumstances. So we’re done.”
On Monday, 15-month-old Sabina Rose died after suffering from a 25-hour seizure. The little girl suffered from a devastating form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome and took multiple FDA approved anti-epileptic drugs every day to try to control her seizures.
The drugs proved unsuccessful and Sabina’s parents, were desperate to get her medical marijuana which, according to TheHealthCure.org, has been found to be effective in treating pediatric epilepsy.
After climbing numerous hurdles in New Jersey, including getting authorization from an approved MMP Physician, additional affirmations from her pediatrician and a psychiatric evaluation, Sabina’s medical marijuana application was en route to the NJ Department of Health days before Thanksgiving.
However, before the paperwork could be processed, Sabina suffered a generalized tonic clonic seizure on Nov. 27. No FDA approved medications positively affected the pre-toddler’s condition leading to her death on Dec. 2.
Two days later, on Wednesday morning a new dispensary located in Woodbridge officially opened its doors. Only the third dispensary to open since the medical marijuana law was passed in 2010, founders vowed to help the over 1,500 registered users throughout the state as much as they can.
The juxtaposition of offering the medical cannabis, which is stringently tied to a high level of restrictions and limitations to access, has patients wondering how effective the law truly is.
“The New Jersey program is broken, it just doesn’t work,” said Edward Forchion, a.k.a, the New Jersey Weedman.
The poster-boy for medical marijuana and a very vocal watchdog, the 49-year-old was diagnosed with a debilitating bone cancer and he suffers from constant tremendous pain due to the large tumors all over his body, according to Forchion.
Although he is a registered medical marijuana card holder in his home state of California, the self proclaimed “marijuana smuggler,” was visiting his children and ex-wife in Browns Mills, in 2010, when he was pulled over by a state trooper.
When searched Forchion’s pockets were stuffed with a significant amount of weed, which he claims he kept in his pockets because it was the only treatment which alleviated his constant pain. “I carry marijuana in my pockets like some people carry aspirin,” he said.
Although a California registration card was also found by authorities, allowing the Weedman to purchase and use the drug in his home state, Forchion was still arrested and charged because New Jersey does not recognize registration cards issued by other states.
According to the state statute, only a bona fide relationship with a New Jersey physician who is registered and approved by the Medical Marijuana Program can issue a card to a patient who lives in Jersey and suffers from a debilitating medical condition.
A judge subsequently found Weedman not guilty of distribution; and a plea deal forced him to plead guilty to possession. He was granted probation.
“Just because I take a vacation doesn’t mean my condition takes a vacation,” said Forchion. “Just because I leave my state doesn’t mean I can leave my medication.”
According to the Weedman, he misunderstood the sentencing and did not check in with his probation officer a day later. He was subsequently charged with violating probation and is now serving a nine-month sentence.
“I am in jail 20 days in a month and then fly home to CA for 10 days so I can get my treatment,” he said. Because Forchion is not allowed to “smoke-up” while in prison, he is forced to take over-the-counter medications, like ibuprofen in order to manage the constant pain.
“I am appealing the judge’s decision and I know I am going to win this, I know I am going to help change the medical marijuana laws here,” said Forchion. A decision is not expected to be made regarding the appeal until the end of 2014. Weedman’s 270 day jail sentence is expected to be completed early next year.
By Sherrina Navani,