Vivian Wilson, a two-year-old living in New Jersey, suffers from Dravet Syndrome, a potentially fatal form of epilepsy. This rare and apparently incurable condition is difficult to treat, but some people believe marijuana extracts can alleviate the symptoms or perhaps even eliminate the seizures.
Such success stories from Colorado, a state lacking New Jersey’s strict controls on the drug, prompted Vivian’s father, Brian Wilson, to buttonhole New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on live television, begging him to help save the girl.
New Jersey allows children to take marijuana for medicinal purposes, but a pediatrician and psychiatrist must approve the prescription. The state prohibits edible marijuana extracts better fit for a child’s consumption, and limits marijuana growers to three strains of the plant.
Wilson said those restrictions hampered his ability to treat his daughter, and with cameras rolling told Christie, “Please don’t let my daughter die, Governor.”
Earlier this year, the New Jersey Legislature passed a bill liberalizing restrictions, but on Aug. 16 Christie conditionally vetoed it, suggesting the legislature retain sections that would allow children access to edible forms of the plant, as well as permitting growers to cultivate more strains of marijuana than previously allowed. The veto kept in place the requirement for a prescription from a pediatrician and psychiatrist.
In the letter to lawmakers that accompanied his veto, Christie said “parents, and not government regulators, are best suited to decide how to care for their children. While many will disagree with the decision to allow minors access to marijuana, even for serious illnesses, parents should remain empowered to make a choice based on their own reflections, study, and physician consultation.”
The state Senate approved Christie’s changes to the bill, and it will become law as long as the Assembly approves it. The bill comes at a contentious time on the national level, with Colorado and Washington recently decriminalizing recreational marijuana use, in direct opposition to federal law.
But the government’s war on marijuana could be winding down. Earlier today, the Obama administration said it would not sue to stop state laws allowing recreational use, essentially opening the door for nationwide legalization on a state-by-state basis.