Judicary Committee Approves Murphy's Health Commissioner Nominee

Mar 9, 2018

Shareef Elnahal

Governor Murphy’s nominee to be New Jersey’s Health Commissioner spend most of his confirmation hearing answering questions about the state’s marijuana policies.


Shereef Elnahal told lamakers than when a 60-day review ordered by the governor is completed, suggestions will be made to improve the state’s medical marijuana program. 


 “We’re going to be recommending a lot of changes that will affect patient access to medicinal marijuana, will lower the barriers to physicians being able to administer it, and also to the businesses the alternative treatment centers that dispense medicinal marijuana. We’re going to be reducing and eliminating many of the barriers.”


Judiciary Committee chairman Nick Scutari asked Elnahal if the possible legalization of recreational use would limit access to medical marijuana.


“I personally have not seen an analysis yet that would tell me one way or another on that issue.”


Senator Gerald Cardinale questioned Elnahal about the potential hazards of legalizing recreational marijuana.


“Of course there are risks with the use of marijuana just as there are for many of the drugs we prescribe that are legal, opioids included.”


But Elnahal said increased access to marijuana could result in less use of opiates.


“The results from medicinal marijuana are certainly encouraging and hoping that can be one of the tools that we use to reduce the need for opioid prescription. And there’s one study that I’m aware of with legalization out of Colorado since they legalized it in 2014 that showed at least preliminarily a six percent or so reduction in opiate overuse and death.”