PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
July 10, 2018

Shereef Elnahal

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Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

Media Advisory: Health Commissioner to Give Medicinal Marijuana Lectures at 2 NJ Hospitals

Dr. Elnahal Gives Medicinal Marijuana the Green Light in NJ

New Jersey Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal will be giving lectures at Hackensack University Medical Center and St. Joseph’s University Medical Center in Paterson on July 11 to update the medical community about the state’s Medicinal Marijuana program expansion and share the latest research findings.

Although more than 100 new doctors have signed up since the expansion began, only 700 of the 28,000 licensed physicians in New Jersey are currently registered to participate in the Department of Health’s Medicinal Marijuana program. Through a series of Grand Round lectures taking place across the state, Dr. Elnahal is hoping to dispel myths and reduce stigma among medical students, faculty, physicians and clinicians by providing an overview of the program and recent expansions the Murphy Administration has undertaken and highlighting the most current therapeutic evidence.

“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 Hackensack lecture will begin 10:30 a.m. in the Hekemian Conference Center Auditorium (30 Prospect Ave., Hackensack, NJ). The St. Joseph’s visit will start at 1:30 p.m. in the St. Joseph’s University Medical Center Auditoriums (703 Main St., Paterson, NJ).

Although research is limited due to federal classification of the drug (scheduling), studies have shown medicinal 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 showed a 6 percent decrease in opioid prescriptions in states with strong medicinal marijuana laws.  Another study showed that access to medical marijuana reduced opioid-related deaths by 24 percent compared to states without medicinal marijuana laws.

About 10,000 patients have joined the Medicinal Marijuana program since the Murphy Administration began in January — for a total of more than 25,462 patients and 1,000 caregivers participating today. Half of the patients in the program are over the age of 50. Of the 10,000 patients who signed up since January, 6,300 have one of the six new medical conditions added at the end of March: anxiety, migraines, Tourette’s syndrome, chronic pain related to musculoskeletal disorders and chronic visceral pain.

A sixth dispensary opened in Secaucus June 18, and several satellite Alternative Treatment Center locations are also in the works.

The first grand rounds lecture was held May 29 at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. These visits will continue through mid-September with lectures scheduled at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, Jersey City Medical Center, Virtua Health and the New Jersey Medical School in Newark.

Search the hashtag #MedMarijuanaTalk on social media or visit our Medicinal Marijuana webpage to learn more.  

Follow New Jersey Health Commissioner Elnahal on Twitter.

Follow the New Jersey Department of Health on Twitter@njdeptofhealth, Facebook/njdeptofhealth, Instagram@njdeptofhealth, and Snapchat@njdoh.

Last Reviewed: 7/10/2018