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'Help Is On The Way:' New Jersey Expanding Its Medical Marijuana Program

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New Jersey is expanding its medical marijuana program.

Gov. Phil Murphy unveiled the expansion Tuesday.

"We are changing the restrictive culture of our medical marijuana program to make it more patient-friendly," the governor said. "We are adding five new categories of medical conditions, reducing patient and caregiver fees, and recommending changes in law so patients will be able to obtain the amount of product that they need. Some of these changes will take time, but we are committed to getting it done for all New Jersey residents who can be helped by access to medical marijuana." 

Among the changes Murphy's making are the addition of five qualifying conditions: anxiety, migraines, Tourette's syndrome, chronic pain related to musculoskeletal disorders and chronic visceral pain.

The patient fee will also be reduced from $200 to $100, with a $20 rate for veterans and seniors. As of Tuesday, there were more than 1,800 residents enrolled in the New Jersey medical marijuana program.

Aubrey Conway from Sayreville says it saved her life. Seven-year-old Jake Honig died from cancer, but his father says he benefited from the program. It's what inspired Murphy to act to expand access.

"Help is finally on the way," the governor said.

The state's health commissioner will also be able to add additional qualifying conditions at his discretion.

Prescribing physicians will also no longer have to appear on a public registry unless they choose to be, according to Commissioner Jackie Cornell.

"A lot of doctors have concerns that this was adding undue stigma to them," the commissioner said.

The state is also lifting the one caregiver limit per patient and allowing alternative treatment centers to apply to open satellite locations. There are currently just five dispensaries in the state.

The announcement came as Murphy pushes for legalized recreational marijuana in New Jersey.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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