Giving the Green Light to Medicinal Marijuana: An Overview of NJ’s Program and Evidence
TRENTON,NJ (September 2018)(CNBNewsnet)--In a continuing effort to increase the number of doctors participating in the Medicinal Marijuana program, New Jersey Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal next week will continue his Grand Rounds lecture series to medical students, physicians and other health professionals at medical schools in Newark and Camden and a hospital in Hunterdon County.
“Medical marijuana has real therapeutic benefits, and it is helping thousands of New Jersey residents — including those with substance use disorders that started because of chronic pain,” said Commissioner Elnahal.
The program has grown significantly during the Murphy Administration. More than 31,000 patients, 1,200 caregivers and 743 physicians currently participate and six Alternative Treatment Centers (ATCs) are operating in Montclair, Woodbridge, Cranbury, Bellmawr, Egg Harbor Township and Secaucus. Five new medical conditions have been added, fees have been reduced, mobile access has been added and ATCs can open satellite locations. Earlier this month, the Department received 146 applications from 106 organizations in response to its request to add up to six additional ATCs. In addition, participating physicians are no longer required to have their names published on the Department of Health website.
During the hour-long PowerPoint lecture entitled Giving the Green Light to Medicinal Marijuana: An Overview of NJ’s Program and Evidence, Commissioner Elnahal outlines the findings of recent national studies that have demonstrated reduced use of prescription opioids in patients with chronic pain; fewer seizures in epilepsy patients; reduced chronic pain for rheumatoid arthritis and HIV patients; and improved quality of life for patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Multiple Sclerosis. The Commissioner also outlines how the Murphy Administration has made the program more consumer friendly and accessible to patients, physicians and operators of ATCs.
Although research is limited due to federal classification of the drug (scheduling), studies have shown medical marijuana has benefited patients with chronic pain, cancer, HIV, Epilepsy, Multiple Sclerosis, IBD and Rheumatoid Arthritis, among many other conditions. Medical marijuana can help reduce reliance on opioid prescriptions, saving many from a lifetime of addiction and possible overdose death. Two studies in the Journal of the American Medical Association, for example, showed a 6 percent decrease in opioid prescriptions in states with strong medical marijuana laws. Another study showed that access to medical marijuana reduced opioid-related deaths by 24 percent compared to states without medical marijuana laws.
The three lectures scheduled for next week include:
- On Monday, Sept.17, Commissioner Elnahal will deliver the Grand Rounds lecture at 10 a.m. at the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Medical Science Building, Room B-610, 185 South Orange Avenue in Newark, 07103.
- On Wednesday, Sept. 19, the Commissioner will deliver the one-hour lecture at noon in the Auditorium of Hunterdon Medical Center, 2100 Wescott Drive, Flemington, NJ 08822
- On Thursday, Sept. 20, Cooper Medical School of Rowan University and Cooper University Health Care will host Commissioner Elnahal at noon in the auditorium of Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, 401 Broadway, Camden, NJ 08103.
Despite progress in expanding the program, fewer than 800 of the state’s 28,000 licensed physicians are registered to participate. Through the lecture series, Dr. Elnahal makes the case to the medical community that this therapy is a safe and effective treatment that should be considered for appropriate patients. During the hour-long lecture, he discusses the results of national studies in which medical marijuana has demonstrated benefits for patients with certain medical conditions and provides an overview of the program.
“There is skepticism and reluctance among some members of the medical community to embrace it as a safe, therapeutic tool to treat pain,” Dr. Elnahal said. “My hope is that by sharing research, as well as everything the Murphy Administration has done to make the program more accessible and consumer-friendly, more physicians will consider registering.”
The first grand rounds lecture was held May 29 at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. These visits will continue through the fall at Jersey City Medical Center, Virtua Health and AtlantiCare.
Search the hashtag #MedMarijuanaTalk on social media or visit our Medicinal Marijuana webpage to learn more.