It's now up to Gov. Christie to decide whether he wants to amend the state's medical marijuana law and regulations - the strictest in the country - to make it easier for severely sick children to use the drug.

The New Jersey Assembly overwhelmingly passed a bill Monday, days after the Senate passed identical legislation, that would streamline the approval process and allow children to use an edible strain of cannabis that does not get them high.

No child in New Jersey has legally received cannabis, according to the Assembly bill, though children are eligible under the state's three-year-old medical marijuana law.

The parents who pushed for the legislation tried to see the governor after the vote, accompanied by Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D., Union), but weren't granted a meeting with him.

Instead, they were permitted to talk to a staffer, who promised to relay their concerns to Christie.

Meghan Wilson, whose 2-year-old daughter, Vivie, has Dravet syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy, said passage of the legislation was "fantastic." But she worries that Christie may not sign the bill.

The vote was 55-13, with nine abstentions. The bill would require minors to get consent from only one doctor instead of three - the same as adults - and would allow an edible cannabis to be sold, which would be easier for a child to use than smoking.

"I hope when Gov. Christie gets this on his desk, he can take off his governor hat and put on his dad hat and think about what would he do if one of his children had a disease for which conventional medications and treatments don't help," said Wilson, of Scotch Plains.

Vivie has been hospitalized 20 times and can only say three words because the frequent seizures and addictive medications she has taken have stopped her development, her mother said. About 20 children with epilepsy have taken cannabis in Colorado and California and become seizure-free, she said. They used a strain that has no THC, the ingredient that causes euphoria.

Last month, Christie, when asked about Vivie Wilson, said he was "not inclined to allow" minors access to cannabis.

Epilepsy is one of a dozen serious diseases and conditions that qualify for cannabis treatments in the state.

Christie has repeatedly said he wants to avoid New Jersey becoming like California, where, he said, "potheads" can get cannabis for headaches. Headaches are not on New Jersey's list of qualifying conditions.

He said he wants to show compassion to the sick but believes strict regulations are needed to curb access to the drug.

His spokesman did not return e-mails or a call seeking comment. Christie has 45 days to act.

Jennie Stormes, a registered nurse whose 14-year-old son, Jackson, has Dravet, said she wants her son to have "the opportunity" to try cannabis after about 35 prescribed drugs and brain surgery have failed him.

"I hope at this point that Gov. Christie has the heart to let my child get this medication and be seizure-free," said the Warren County woman. She said she gave Christie's staffer a picture of her son and asked her to tell Christie to "please" sign the bill.

Vivie and Jackson Stormes both received medical marijuana cards in February, but they have encountered obstacles in getting access to the drug.

So far, only one dispensary is open, in Montclair, Essex County, and it has served only about 130 of the 1,000 patients registered with the program.

Children also face restrictive provisions in the law and Health Department regulations.

Currently, only a dry form of cannabis, lozenges, and a topical ointment are allowed to be sold. The parents say the drug should also be offered in edible form or as a tincture or extract that can be mixed into butter. The dry form is mainly for smoking, while the lozenge can make a child choke, the parents say.

A Health Department spokesperson said the dry form can be converted into an edible variety, but Wilson said that would effectively require "setting up a laboratory" because she needs precise amounts and ratios before she can give her child cannabis.

Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D., Union), who sponsored the original marijuana bill, said: "Our medical marijuana program should have restrictions in place to protect against abuse, but it cannot be so limited that patients who are eligible for the program cannot access care."

The bill before Christie would also amend the law so that children would not need to get consent from a pediatrician and a psychiatrist in addition to their treating doctor.

Finally, the legislation would allow dispensaries to produce an unlimited number of strains. Because Dravet is so rare, Wilson and Stormes fear the variety their children need may not be cultivated because the dispensaries are only permitted to sell three strains.

The strain being used by children afflicted with epilepsy in Colorado and California has high-potency cannabidiol, a key compound, as well as no THC.

Contact Jan Hefler at 856-779-3224 or, or follow on Twitter @JanHefler. Read her blog, "Burlco Buzz," at