Wednesday, April 8, 2015

CMMNJ Meeting Agenda for April 14, 2015



Monthly Public Meeting Agenda 
Lawrence Township Library, Room #3
Tuesday, April 14, 2015, 7:00 PM -- 9:00 PM

Approve March 2015 minutes.  Discuss:

CMMNJ testified at NJ Assembly Regulatory Oversight Committee hearing on 3/16/15. The committee released two bills & one resolution which were approved by an Assembly floor vote (see below).

“CMMNJ TV”—episodes taped 3/31: Next taping: 4/28, noon to 4 pm.

Weekly Thursday demonstrations at the Statehouse resumed 4/2/15.

“Petition for Rulemaking:” DOH rejects entire CMMNJ Petition.  DOH published its 2014 Annual Report in March 2015; DOH commissioner says she will start process to add qualifying conditions to the NJ program.  Media frenzy.

CMMNJ Patient Handbook available--$10 donation suggested.

Upcoming Events:
NLRB Hearing 4/15, 6th & Chestnut, Philly 10 am: UFCW v. CCF.
4/20 Protest, March & Concert, 8am – 8 pm, Trenton’s Mill Hill Park to the Statehouse.
Million Marijuana March, 5/2, 2pm – 5pm, Camden, NJ.
Cannabis & the Endocannabinoid System” webinar, Dr. Aggarwal, 4/11, 1 pm.
"Patients Out of Time" conference, W. Palm Beach, Florida, 5/21-23/15.  http://bit.ly/1z3o1Y3
Trial of Jon Peditto, Toms River; jury selection to start 4/13; jury nullification attempt.

Recent events: NJ SPRING SMOKE-OUT, March 21 march to Trenton State House & rally.
 “Medical Marijuana: Myths & Medicine,” PA State Nurses Assn., 3/26/15 Millersville Univ.
ASA’s National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference, March 27-31st in Washington, DC. PA PA Joint Health & Judiciary Committees medical cannabis hearing, 3/24, Philadelphia.

Treasury report: Checking: $2846; PayPal: $3534.
CMMNJ's meetings are the second Tuesday of each month from 7 - 9 PM at the Lawrence Twp. Library, 2751 Brunswick Pike, Lawrence Twp., 08648. All are welcome.  (Meeting at the library does not imply Mercer County’s endorsement of our issue.)

More info:
Ken Wolski, RN, (609) 394-2137 ohamkrw@aol.com
http://www.cmmnj.org 

Facebook: Friends of CMMNJ:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/62462971150/?fref=ts

CMMNJ, a 501(c)(3) public charity, is a non-profit educational organization.


Monthly Public Meeting Minutes
March 10, 2015 


NJUMR Press Conference, 2/18, Newark with NJACLU, LEAP & NAACP; CMMNJ endorsed.

Sens. Booker, Paul & Gellibrand’s Press Conference today, 3/10/15, introduced CARERS Act, the first-ever bill in U.S. Senate to legalize marijuana for medical use!

CMMNJ testified at NJ Assembly Regulatory Oversight Committee Hearing, 3/2/15.

“CMMNJ TV”--two episodes taped 2/24: Roger & Lora (Genny) Barbour & Hugh Giordano.  Next taping: 3/31, noon to 4 pm. Distribute our shows nationally?

“Petition for Rulemaking,” for MMP reg changes; media reports DOH will respond 3/15.

Current NJ marijuana bills: A3525/S2312 (comprehensive MMP fix); S1896/A3094 (legalize, tax and regulate marijuana); A3726 (adds PTSD); A218 (decrim).

Upcoming Events: NLRB Hearing 3/16, 6th & Chestnut, Philly 10 am: UFCW v. CCF.
NJ SPRING SMOKE-OUT Sat., March 21, 2:00pm march to Trenton State House.
“Medical Marijuana: Myths & Medicine,” PA State Nurses Assn., 3/26/15 Millersville Univ.
ASA’s National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference, March 27-31st in Washington, DC.
"Patients Out of Time" conference, W. Palm Beach, Florida, 5/21-23/15.  http://bit.ly/1z3o1Y3
Trial of Jon Peditto, Toms River; jury selection to start. Jury nullification attempt.
CMMNJ Patient Handbook being printed.
PA joint House committee hearing on SB3, 3/24/15, 800 Spruce St., Philadelphia, 10 am.

Recent events: Grand Rounds: “Medical Marijuana” at Princeton House, 2/23/15 Dr. Marcu.
March for the Love of Cannabis, 101 S. Market Street, Wilmington, De 2/14/15.
“Cannabis & the Endocannabinoid System” webinar, Dr. Aggarwal, 2/21 & 3/7.
AAP endorsed limited pediatric use, rescheduling, & decrim for minors and young adults.
PA Medical cannabis bill, SB 3 hearing 2/25, Harrisburg.

Treasury report: Checking: $3651; PayPal: $3526. IRS e-postcard and state corp. updates done.

CMMNJ, a 501(c)(3) public charity, is a non-profit educational organization.



Recent Media Coverage and Blogs:

N.J. medical marijuana program stagnating because state limits illnesses, bars edibles, critics say
http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/03/nj_medical_marijuana_program_stagnating_because_of.html

NJ Marijuana Advocates To Hold Spring ‘Smoke Out’
http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2015/03/05/nj-marijuana-advocates-to-hold-spring-smoke-out/

Booker legislation would exempt N.J. doctors dispensing marijuana from federal drug laws
http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/03/booker_legislation_would_exempt_nj_doctors_dispensing_marijuana_from_federal_drug_laws.html

A Sensible Bill on Medical Marijuana
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/11/opinion/a-sensible-bill-on-medical-marijuana.html?emc=edit_tnt_20150311&nlid=17961243&tntemail0=y&_r=0

CARERS Act Press Conference
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTPi5lpXqOE

Senators Introduce Bill To End Federal Curbs On Medical Marijuana
http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidkroll/2015/03/11/is-congress-planning-to-legalize-marijuana/

Federal Medical Marijuana Bill Adds A Fifth Sponsor
http://www.theweedblog.com/federal-medical-marijuana-bill-adds-a-fifth-sponsor/

Bipartisan Medical Marijuana Bill Gains Momentum in Senate and House
http://www.bergendispatch.com/articles/35908140/Bipartisan-Medical-Marijuana-Bill-Gains-Momentum-in-Senate-and-House-.aspx

Colorado shows why legalized pot is wrong for NJ
http://www.thedailyjournal.com/story/opinion/2015/03/11/colorado-shows-legalized-pot-wrong-nj/70185520/

LETTER: Angelini oped spewed anti-marijuana propaganda
http://www.app.com/story/opinion/readers/2015/03/13/letter-angelini-oped-spewed-anti-marijuana-propaganda/70283920/

LETTER: Stop criminalizing, stigmatizing pot users
http://www.app.com/story/opinion/readers/2015/03/16/letter-stop-criminalizing-stigmatizing-pot-users/24842813/

How New Jersey could legalize pot: Letter
http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/03/how_new_jersey_could_legalize_pot_letter.html

AP: NJ issues standards for edible medical marijuana
http://www.app.com/story/news/local/new-jersey/2015/03/13/ap-nj-issues-standards-edible-medical-marijuana/70290610/

Opinion: New Jersey's medical marijuana program languishes - so do the patients it could help
http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/03/opinion_new_jerseys_medical_marijuana_program_lang.html

This Opinion was published on March 16, the very day that the failings of the state's Medicinal Marijuana Program were discussed at the State House in Trenton during an Assembly Regulatory Oversight Committee hearing.  All the members of the committee got a copy of this Opinion.

The committee today released two bills and one resolution designed to expand the state's program:
• A-3726 (Mazzeo/Stender) - Authorizes medical marijuana for qualifying patients with post-traumatic stress disorder:
http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2014/Bills/A4000/3726_I1.PDF
• A-4286 (Eustace/Gusciora/Tucker) - Authorizes transfer of excess medical marijuana inventory between alternative treatment centers.
• ACR-224 (Gusciora/Eustace/Tucker) - Determines that certain medical marijuana program regulations are inconsistent with legislative intent:
http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2014/Bills/ACR/224_I1.PDF

Marijuana activists ramp up legalization efforts in N.J.
http://www.courierpostonline.com/story/news/local/south-jersey/2015/03/16/marijuana-activists-ramping-legalization-efforts-nj/24833551/

N.J. Health Department takes step toward allowing
edible medical marijuana for kids
http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/03/nj_health_department_takes_step_toward_allowing_me.html

NJ Lawmakers Consider Expansion of Medical Marijuana Program
http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/WHYY-NJ-Lawmakers-Consider-Medical-Marijuana-Program-296696031.html

UPDATE: NJ Medical Marijuana Changes
http://www.newjerseynewsroom.com/healthquest/update-nj-medical-marijuana-changes

Medical marijuana – NJ moving ahead with edible pot for kids
http://nj1015.com/nj-moves-ahead-with-medical-pot-for-kids/

Brownies and Lozenges: NJ Issues Guidelines for Edible Medical Marijuana Products
http://patch.com/new-jersey/montclair/brownies-and-lozenges-nj-issues-guidelines-edible-medical-marijuana-products-0

Editorial: N.J. availability of edible medical marijuana moves at frustrating pace
http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/03/editorial_nj_availability_of_edible_medical_mariju.html

WATCH: N.J. marijuana activist confronts Christie
http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/03/confronted_by_nj_weedman_christie_tells_him_to_tal.html

DEMS THREATEN ‘LEGISLATIVE VETO’ TO EASE RESTRICTIONS ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA
http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/15/03/26/dems-threaten-legislative-veto-to-ease-restrictions-on-medical-marijuana/

Lawmakers Approve Bills to Revamp NJ Medical Marijuana Program
http://patch.com/new-jersey/bloomfield/lawmakers-approve-bill-revamp-nj-medical-marijuana-program-bills-head-senate-0

Medical marijuana report release could lead to expanding N.J. program
http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/03/njs_medical_marijuana_program_so_far_800-plus_poun.html

Philly420: Limiting medical marijuana conditions in Pa. a bad path
http://www.philly.com/philly/columnists/philly420/Philly420_Limiting_medical_marijuana_conditions_in_Pa_a_bad_path.html#TgB1hyi5MTdpAcuF.99

Poll: Should more illnesses be added to the list that qualifies N.J. patients for medical marijuana?
http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/04/poll_should_more_illnesses_be_added_to_the_list_th.html

What is N.J.'s tax on medical marijuana if not 'blood money?'
http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/04/story_of_nj_teen_backs_up_christies_abortion_polic.html

Medical Marijuana Advocates Hope Proposed Changes Will Improve New Jersey Program
http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2015/04/04/advocates-push-for-new-jersey-to-add-medical-marijuana-conditions/

Notice of Action on Petition for Rulemaking
http://www.nj.gov/health/legal/documents/njac864mmp.pdf

Medical Marijuana Could Treat More Ailments in New Jersey
http://www.njtvonline.org/news/video/medical-marijuana-could-treat-more-ailments-in-new-jersey/

Panel to study more ailments for medical pot
http://www.philly.com/philly/news/new_jersey/20150402_Panel_to_study_more_ailments_for_medical_pot.html#59rZp2bZwQvPmgip.99

STATE MAY EXPAND MEDICAL MARIJUANA TO COVER PTSD, OTHER CONDITIONS
http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/15/03/31/state-may-expand-medical-marijuana-to-cover-ptsd-other-conditions/

New Jersey to look at adding medical marijuana conditions
http://www.newsday.com/news/region-state/new-jersey-report-finds-3-600-have-used-medical-marijuana-1.10171904

Marijuana protesters light up across the street from New Jersey Statehouse in Trenton
http://www.trentonian.com/general-news/20150321/marijuana-protesters-light-up-across-the-street-from-new-jersey-statehouse-in-trenton

Advocates Push to Legalize Marijuana in New Jersey
http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Advocates-Push-to-Legalize-Marijuana-in-New-Jersey-297139101.html#ixzz3Wfjawin6

Dozens smoke pot outside N.J. Statehouse during 'Spring Smoke Out' rally for marijuana legalization
http://www.nj.com/mercer/index.ssf/2015/03/legalized_marijuana_nj_statehouse_in_spring_smoke.html

Chris Christie's muddled message on marijuana and the War on Drugs | Mulshine
http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/03/chris_christies_muddled_message_on_marijuana_and_t.html

NJ Weedman’s Passing the Joint: After a successful Smoke-Out rally, time to keep fighting
http://www.trentonian.com/opinion/20150325/nj-weedmans-passing-the-joint-after-a-successful-smoke-out-rally-time-to-keep-fighting

Pot generates blood money, but he'll take the booze tax anytime | Editorial
http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/03/pot_generates_blood_money_but_hell_take_the_booze.html#incart_river

NJ Lawmakers Consider Expansion of Medical Marijuana Program
http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/WHYY-NJ-Lawmakers-Consider-Medical-Marijuana-Program-296696031.html#ixzz3WfloPb1K

N.J. PTSD sufferers would qualify for medical marijuana under bill approved by Assembly
http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/03/nj_ptsd_sufferers_would_qualify_for_medical_mariju.html

Links to the videos from the first Health and Judiciary committee hearing! 2 parts:
http://www.pahousegop.com/55.aspx

Friday, March 6, 2015

Maryanne Boniello's Legislative Testimony, 3/2/15

Assembly Regulatory Oversight Committee
Committee Room 14, 4th Floor
State House Annex
Trenton, NJ 08625

Re:  NJ Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act

I would like to thank the Committee for this opportunity to express my views on the NJ Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act.

I have been a NJ Medical Marijuana patient since May of 2014. I have Stage 4 advanced metastatic thyroid cancer. I have also had breast cancer. In May of 2013, with my 3rd cancer operation in 7 month’s time to remove my remaining sternum pending, I made the decision to apply and got approval for Social Security Disability benefits. I had been a self-employed freelance Certified Court Reporter for 31 years. I was out of work since October 2012, when I had an operation to remove the upper part of my sternum for thyroid cancer. I will not elaborate on my medical treatment here other than to say it has been extensive and debilitating at times. The decision to apply for SSD benefits reduced my income by more than half.

When I decided to apply for my Medical Marijuana card, I was glad to see the State offer reduced fees for low-income and disabled patients. This does not apply to the dispensaries or the physicians on the registry who can charge whatever they like. This puts an undue burden on those that are struggling on fixed incomes and disability benefits, on top of having severe medical conditions. Unfortunately, the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act is anything but compassionate. It is hurting the very patients who need it the most. I do not believe this was the intent of the original legislation.

NJ patients are held hostage to the ATCs because we are not allowed to grow our own plants, although that was allowed in the original legislation. The ATCs have no competition or reason to have fair pricing. I would like to see a fee schedule imposed on the ATCs and physicians for patients who are on SSD and low-income patients similar to what the State offers for the MM program. This would take a huge financial burden off patients who are already dealing with a great amount of pain, stress, suffering and anxiety due to their illnesses and do not need the extra worries of whether they can afford their medicine. Patients should also be allowed to grow a certain number of plants for their own use, as was originally intended.

I also feel medical marijuana patients should not be taxed on their medicine. I do not pay taxes on my pharmaceutical medicines. This compounds the financial burden of the high-priced product and the extra tax. Are our legislators really okay with taxing the sick and suffering medical marijuana patients?  Not compassionate at all.

Physician Registry:

I do not understand why there is a physician registry. All licensed physicians in the State of New Jersey should have the opportunity to prescribe medical marijuana as they do prescription drugs. I should not be prevented from using my primary care physician who I have been going to for more than 15 years because she is not on the registry. I also should not be precluded from using my cancer doctors, all of whom are in New York City, just because there is no provision for out-of-state doctors to certify patients.

I had a lengthy discussion with my PCP about this program. She is very interested in it. When I asked her if she would consider joining the registry, she said she didn’t have a problem doing that, but she would want to know more about dosing and interaction of other drugs before she felt comfortable as a physician to prescribe medical marijuana. The required course for the registry is Addiction Medicine & Pain Management. I am not a doctor, but even I can figure out that courses on medical marijuana, strains, dosing, interactions with other drugs would be more effective for the physicians to gain the knowledge they need for their patients. I am on my own to figure out dosing and interactions. This is not right.

Recently, I looked into changing physicians for the program to one that accepted my insurance. I first called the DOH to ask the procedure for that and it was a simple one - the new doctor had to sign-on to the online website and a few clicks and information changes and it was done. I called 3 local doctors on the registry:

Dr. #1 wanted to charge me $150 administrative fee not refundable through my insurance and then would take my insurance for visits.

Dr. #2 wanted to charge a $300 consultation fee not billable to my insurance.

Dr. #3 wanted to charge $275 and the manager I spoke with said I had to be completely re-certified again with all the paperwork I submitted in May. This was totally inaccurate as I had gotten specific instructions from the DOH on how to transfer a patient.

There needs to be oversight and fee schedules for the physicians also.

EDIBLES, OILS & CONCENTRATES:

These need to be allowed and made available for all patients, not just children. I find it very offensive and discriminatory that the way I choose to medicate is being directed by politicians. Whether  one believes that cannabis cures cancer, helps with seizures and other diseases or not, patients should have full access to the various forms of medical marijuana which have different uses. I should not have to make my own cannabis oil. There is no valid reason why whole plant-based cannabis oil is not available in NJ. I fight every day for my life and am committed to doing everything within my means to fight cancer. Why am I being denied a possible treatment option? How many of you can say that given the same situation I am in, you would not want ALL available options of treatment for yourself or a loved one?

I truly hope that these changes will be implemented very soon. As with anything new, there’s tweaking to be done with the program. There are a lot of people out here that have severe, life-threatening conditions who are depending on this program. We don’t have the time to wait.  

Sincerely,
Maryanne Boniello
Nutley, NJ 07110
maredboni@msn.com

VANESSA WALTZ: Testimony to Assembly Regulatory Oversight Committee March 2, 2015

My name is Vanessa Waltz, and in 2011 I was treated for Stage III breast cancer in New Jersey. I moved to New Jersey for cancer treatment both because my family lived there, and because I believed the physicians and hospitals in New Jersey were superior to those in New Mexico, where I was living at the time of my diagnosis. I had also read that New Jersey had recently passed a Medical Marijuana law, and I was looking forward to becoming a legal cannabis patient.

Little did I know at the time of my move that more than a year after the passage of the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, there was still no legal access for patients in New Jersey, nor would there be legal access through my months of chemotherapy, radiation, five surgeries, and multiple hospitalizations. I was forced to find cannabis on the black market to alleviate my suffering, rather than making use of the program that should have already been in place.

Four years later, I realize to my great disappointment that the situation for critically ill patients in New Jersey is not much better than it was during my cancer treatment. Despite the fact that New Jersey’s compassionate use program is now active, and there are 3 dispensaries open, the most vulnerable patients are still unable to access cannabis medicine for a variety of reasons.

While I was being treated for cancer, I had regular visits with a primary care physician, an oncologist, a radiologist, a neurologist, a cardiologist, a pain management specialist, a gastroenterologist, a physical therapist, a neuropsychologist, a speech therapist, an occupational therapist, and an orthopedist. In addition to being extremely ill, at times bedridden and or in a wheelchair, as you can imagine, my appointments with these physicians and rehabilitation specialists took up a lot of my time and a staggering amount of money, which I believe is typical for patients with a life-threatening illness like mine. None of my physicians signed up for the physician registry, and therefore, even when the program became active toward the end of my treatment, none of them were legally able to recommend me for a medical marijuana card.

How are patients who are experiencing similar illnesses – or worse – supposed to find the time or the money to develop a “bona fide” relationship with yet another physician in order to access the program? When New Jersey’s program was being developed, “doctor shopping” was a big concern among many legislators. Originally conceived in a misguided
attempt to validate the legitimacy of the program, the physician registry in New Jersey has itself created the need for “doctor shopping”.

As a Board Member and Social Media Administrator for the Coalition for Medical Marijuana – New Jersey, I am regularly contacted by critically ill patients facing these obstacles. I called all the doctors in my area in the physician registry, they often tell me, and they require a two year relationship to recommend me for a card...Or, they are not accepting new patients…Or, they require four visits at $250 each before I can get my medical marijuana card.

When I was going through treatment, my days were filled with nausea, migraines, heart arrhythmias, and regular visits to the emergency room. I was unable to work. I was often bedridden. There is no way that I could have found the energy, time, or money required to jump through the hoops that are still TO THIS DAY the average struggle of a critically ill patient attempting to get legal access.

Until the physician registry is removed, the most critically ill patients will continue to face the unnecessary barriers of excessive time, money, and energy needed to join the program.

The lack of patient participation in New Jersey’s program is compounded by the fact that even if patients do jump through the hoops and become a registered card holder, they find that the cannabis available in dispensaries is far more expensive than what can be found on the black market, and that edible products cannot be purchased by adults, and are still not even available for children despite changes in the regulations allowing for their sale. Not to mention the fact that many patients must travel a significant distance to a dispensary, or designate a caregiver at significant financial cost.

Considering this, it is no wonder to me that the number of patients in New Jersey’s program is a mere fraction of what it is in other medical states.  It is no wonder that the dispensaries are struggling financially, or that New Jersey patients only purchased 17 pounds of cannabis in New Jersey dispensaries over a year.

Governor Christie claims that lack of participation in the program proves that there is not a legitimate need for medical marijuana in New Jersey. This is clearly not the case; rather, the need for medical cannabis is not being met for critically ill patients due to the cumbersome and unnecessary red tape and expense involved in becoming a cardholder.

Other states with more active programs are not simply providing patients with medicine for a mild headache, as Governor Christie is fond of claiming. Rather, other more compassionate states are allowing critically ill patients access through their own established physicians without any kind of registry or unnecessary training requirement. Critically ill patients are able to purchase cannabis for fair market prices, and in all kinds of preparations best suited for their individual health issues. Many states allow delivery services for registered patients. And in more compassionate states, patients are able to grow their own cannabis at home, or designate a caregiver to do so for them.

Until New Jersey changes the regulations to make cannabis medicine more affordable and accessible for critically ill patients, the program will continue to operate ineffectively, forcing the most vulnerable patients to choose between spending an inordinate amount of time and money to achieve legal access, suffering without medication, or breaking the law to access black market products. And none of these options are compassionate for patients in New Jersey.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

CMMNJ Meeting Agenda for March 10, 2015


Monthly Public Meeting Agenda 
Lawrence Township Library, Room #3
Tuesday, March 10, 2015, 7:00 PM -- 9:00 PM

Approve February 2015 minutes. Discuss:

NJ United for Marijuana Reform (NJUMR) Press Conference, 2/18 in Newark, NJ with NJ ACLU, LEAP, Municipal Prosecutors Assn., & NAACP; CMMNJ endorsed.

CMMNJ testifies at Assembly Regulatory Oversight Committee Hearing, 3/2/15.

“CMMNJ TV”--two episodes taped 2/24: Roger & Lora (Genny) Barbour & Hugh Giordano.  Shows air Tues., 10 pm & Fri., 10:30 am on Comcast Ch. 30 & Verizon FIOS Ch. 45.  Next taping: 3/31, noon to 4 pm. New HD equipment at the Princeton Community TV studio!

“Petition for Rulemaking,” for MMP reg changes; media reports DOH will respond 3/15.

Current NJ marijuana bills: A3525/S2312 (comprehensive MMP fix); S1896/A3094 (legalize, tax and regulate marijuana); A3726 (adds PTSD); A218 (decrim).

Upcoming Events:
NLRB Hearing 3/16, 6th & Chestnut, Philly 10 am: UFCW v. CCF.

NJ SPRING SMOKE-OUT Sat., March 21, 2:00pm march to Trenton State House.

“Medical Marijuana: Myths & Medicine,” PA State Nurses Assn., 3/26/15 Millersville Univ.

ASA’s National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference, March 27-31st in Washington, DC.

"Patients Out of Time" conference, W. Palm Beach, Florida, 5/21-23/15.  http://bit.ly/1z3o1Y3

Trial of Jon Peditto, Toms River; jury selection to start. Jury nullification attempt.

PA joint House committee hearing on SB3, 3/24/15, 800 Spruce St., Philadelphia, 10 am.

CMMNJ Patient Handbook being printed.

Recent events: Grand Rounds: “Medical Marijuana” at Princeton House, 2/23/15 Dr. Marcu.
March for the Love of Cannabis, 101 S. Market Street, Wilmington, De 2/14/15.
“Cannabis & the Endocannabinoid System” webinar, Dr. Aggarwal, 2/21 & 3/7.
AAP endorsed limited pediatric use, rescheduling, & decrim for minors and young adults.
PA Medical cannabis bill, SB 3 hearing 2/25, Harrisburg.

Treasury report: Checking: $3651; PayPal: $3526.

CMMNJ's meetings are the second Tuesday of each month from 7 - 9 PM at the Lawrence Twp. Library, 2751 Brunswick Pike, Lawrence Twp., 08648 Tel. #609.882.9246.  All are welcome.  (Meeting at the library does not imply Mercer County’s endorsement of our issue.)

More info:  Ken Wolski, RN
(609) 394-2137 ohamkrw@aol.com
http://www.cmmnj.org
Facebook: Friends of CMMNJ:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/62462971150/?fref=ts

CMMNJ, a 501(c)(3) public charity, is a non-profit educational organization.



Monthly Public Meeting Minutes 
February 10, 2015

January 2015 minutes approved.  Discuss:

NLRB Hearing 3/16 in Philly: UFCW v. CCF ATC: discussion by Hugh Giordano, union rep. UFCW supports marijuana reform to help patients, union & industry.  TV interview scheduled for UFCW union rep  for 2/24.

“CMMNJ TV” Princeton TV wants two shows edited and handed in this week.

PA SB3 medical marijuana bill, not better yet; needs many amendments.  Gov. Wolf supportive.

Trial of Jon Peditto, Toms River; jury selection/nullification starts in three weeks for 17 plants.

Jim Miller discusses Op Ed re: opiate addiction; Jim plans to respond to this.

Fully Baked Radio” interview, 1/19 with Ken & Jim M. "Cannabis Frontier" interview, 1/24.

CMMNJ awaits action on “Petition for Rulemaking” requesting MMP regulatory changes; write letters of support to DOH.

Support NJ marijuana bills: A3726 (PTSD); A3525/S2312 (MMP fix); S1896/A3094 (legalize); A218 (decrim).

Treasury report: Checking: $3696; PayPal: $3526. CMMNJ is selling hand-rolled hemp bracelets/necklaces from Romania @ $3 each or 2/$5.

CMMNJ, a 501(c)(3) public charity, is a non-profit educational organization.



Recent Media Coverage and Blogs:

Marijuana legal in New Jersey?
This new coalition launches effort to legalize it, tax it
http://www.nj.com/essex/index.ssf/2015/02/coalition_launches_to_advocate_for_legalization_ta.html

Endorse NJUMR (New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform)
https://www.njumr.org/action-center/endorse-njumr/

Daily Marijuana Use Is Not Associated with Brain Morphometric Measures in Adolescents or Adults
http://www.jneurosci.org/content/35/4/1505.abstract

Cannabis and the Endocannabinoid System
http://mycompassion.org/event-1832565

NJ Weedman’s Passing the Joint: The cure for what ails you
http://www.trentonian.com/opinion/20150204/nj-weedmans-passing-the-joint-the-cure-for-what-ails-you

U.S.: Pot use doesn't increase crash risk
http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/nation/2015/02/06/us-evidence-marijuana-leads-higher-crash-risk/23004549/

Le’Or aims to put marijuana legalization on the Jewish agenda
http://www.jweekly.com/article/full/73941/leor-aims-to-put-marijuana-legalization-on-the-jewish-agenda/

Christie on the issues: Marijuana
http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/02/christie_on_the_issues_marijuana.html

Group Launches Campaign to Legalize Marijuana in New Jersey
http://www.wsj.com/news/article_email/SB12044330730223914681904580468230840816208-lMyQjAxMTI1MDE0ODQxMzgzWj?mod=wsj

Is it Time to Legalize, Tax and Regulate Marijuana in N.J.?
http://www.newjerseynewsroom.com/state/is-it-time-to-legalize-tax-and-regulate-marijuana-in-nj

NJ Weedman’s Passing the Joint: If you don’t know your history, you can’t guide your future
http://www.trentonian.com/opinion/20150218/nj-weedmans-passing-the-joint-if-you-dont-know-your-history-you-cant-guide-your-future

NJ Weedman’s Passing the Joint: The butthurt is high over being snubbed by new marijuana coalition
http://www.trentonian.com/opinion/20150225/nj-weedmans-passing-the-joint-the-butthurt-is-high-over-being-snubbed-by-new-marijuana-coalition

NCNORML at the Moral March February 14, 2015 in Raleigh, NC
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0XeFHnK46A

Philly420: Marijuana goes legal in D.C. and Alaska
http://www.philly.com/philly/columnists/philly420/Philly420_Marijuana_goes_legal_in_DC_and_Alaska.html#QBZMSrwFwrkCE8Gi.99

Did Smoking Pot Mess Up Your Brain?
Actually, research suggests that the chemicals in marijuana might protect against Alzheimer’s.
https://medium.com/midcentury-modern/did-pot-mess-up-your-brain-1f63ab4f8481

Philly420: Privatizing Pa. liquor shows marijuana hypocrisy
http://www.philly.com/philly/columnists/philly420/Philly420_Privatizing_Pa_liquor_shows_marijuana_hypocrisy.html#zFiAwSpCQigG3Umv.99

Freedom Leaf
http://online.fliphtml5.com/wixy/kvlp/

Is the grass greener? The highs and lows of marijuana decriminalization in Philly
http://articles.philly.com/2015-02-26/news/59504746_1_marijuana-decriminalization-new-ordinance-racial-disparity

Trenton’s Biggest Buzzkill
http://politickernj.com/2015/02/trentons-biggest-buzzkill/

N.J. medical marijuana program stagnating
because state limits illnesses, bars edibles, critics say
http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/03/nj_medical_marijuana_program_stagnating_because_of.html

How New Jersey could legalize pot: Letter
http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/03/how_new_jersey_could_legalize_pot_letter.html

Philly420: The DEA's stoner rabbits
http://www.philly.com/philly/columnists/philly420/Philly420_The_DEAs_Marijuana_Easter_Bunny_.html

NORML Debunks Latest Smear Campaign Against Cannabis
http://naturalrevolution.org/norml-debunks-latest-smear-campaign-against-cannabis/

CMMNJ TV: Genny's Mom & Dad
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTBMMyBzlJc

Coalition Pushes for Legalization of Marijuana in New Jersey
http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Coalition-Plans-Push-to-Legalize-Marijuana-in-New-Jersey-292420421.html#ixzz3TXJAHaFI

Monday, March 2, 2015

Oral Testimony to the New Jersey Assembly Regulatory Oversight Committee, March 2, 2015, by Kenneth R. Wolski, RN

Chairman Gusciora and members of the Assembly Regulatory Oversight Committee, thank you for the opportunity to again address this committee.

My name is Ken Wolski.  I am Executive Director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana—New Jersey, Inc.  (CMMNJ)   I am a registered nurse with 39 years experience in New Jersey & Pennsylvania.

In 2003, I co-founded CMMNJ.  We are the only statewide organization in NJ that is solely dedicated to bringing about safe and legal access to medical marijuana.  We incorporated in 2006 and became a 501(c)(3) in 2007.  Our mission is to educate the public about the benefits of medical marijuana.
 
Last year I presented to this committee my resume, some Op Eds I had published on the importance of home cultivation, some testimony from patients who are having a great deal of difficulty with the medical marijuana program, and a Compact Disc (CD) containing the revisions to the Regulations that enact the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (CUMMA) that we feel are necessary in order to make this a successful program.

In looking at where we were a year ago and where we are today, not much has changed.

3 ATCs were open then; 3 ATCs are open now (it's like having three pharmacies in the entire state);
About 250 doctors were in the program then; about 350 doctors are in it now--out of over 30,000 licensed physicians in the state;
About 1700 patients were registered a year ago; about 3700 patients are registered now, in a state with almost 9 million people.

When the CUMMA passed into law in Jan., 2010, The Legislature found and declared that:
there was “beneficial use for marijuana in treating or alleviating the pain or other symptoms associated with certain debilitating medical conditions” and,
this “law will have the practical effect of protecting from arrest the vast majority of seriously ill people who have a medical need to use marijuana.”

That has simply not happened in the 5 years since this bill became law.

Marijuana has enormous therapeutic potential, but,
Most people who could benefit from marijuana therapy do not have one of the severely limited qualifying conditions;
Those who do have a qualifying condition find the application process too difficult, or too time-consuming to manage; and,
Even those who manage to get an ID card find the program too expensive to afford.

Limited qualifying conditions:
There is no valid medical or scientific reason to limit marijuana therapy for pain management to only two diseases, cancer and HIV/AIDS.

Marijuana is effective for pain management for any disease, injury or medical condition that causes chronic pain, and, for conditions that cause neuropathic pain, marijuana works better than any other drug on the market.  Last year there was some question about what constitutes chronic pain and I want to offer a definition so that we are clear on this. Chronic pain is unrelieved pain in a major disabling condition that continues for six months or more. Marijuana therapy is appropriate for any chronic condition that a doctor might prescribe a narcotic for
and, in fact, marijuana is significantly safer than narcotics.  There is a 25% reduction in opiate overdose deaths in states that have robust medical marijuana programs.  See that article from “Science Daily” that I provided to members of this committee.

There is no reason to limit marijuana therapy for only three neurological conditions.  Marijuana is neuroprotective according to the Expert Opinion Paper of the National MS Society published in 2008. That means that marijuana can delay or even stop the progression of these incurable neurological conditions, but it continues to be nearly impossible for patients to legally access.

Twenty-two veterans commit suicide every day in the U.S. because Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is so poorly managed by traditional pharmaceuticals. We give parades and platitudes to veterans for their
service, but we deny them access to appropriate health care—marijuana therapy—which shows great promise in the management of PTSD in the states and foreign countries where it is allowed.

The DOH is empowered to add qualifying conditions at any time.  But the DOH has created an overly burdensome process that we believe is designed to fail.  The process has not even started yet due to self-imposed restrictions by the DOH.

Application process too difficult:
Finding a doctor who participates in the MMP is difficult when only about 1% of NJ physicians are signed up to take part. The Regulations created the very thing the statute wanted to avoid—patients going to a small list of doctors specifically for marijuana recommendations.  The statute wanted to ensure that there was a bona fide doctor/patient relationship but instead, patients have to abandon their family doctors and specialists and find a doctor on the DOH’s list.

The application process is too lengthy for nearly all hospice patients who die before they ever get access, and for many cancer patients who get a cancer diagnosis and have to endure chemotherapy before they can ever get an ID card.

Medical marijuana too expensive:
The marijuana from New Jersey’s ATCs is the most expensive in the nation.  It is just not an option for the many patients who have been impoverished by their illness.

The DOH justified this high price by saying in its Biennial Report that NJ is an expensive state to live in.  There was no sympathy at all from the DOH, no attempt at accommodating the poor—the DOH just seemed to say, “If you want cheaper medical marijuana, go find yourself another state to live in.”

In the packet of material I have provided to Committee members, there is:
Testimony from two patients, Maryanne Boniello and Vanessa Waltz who could not be here today.  Their testimony explains in detail some of the problems they have had with the medical marijuana program;
A Petition for Rulemaking that CMMNJ submitted to DOH in Oct., 2014.  CMMNJ made a formal application through the Regulatory process to the DOH for modifications to some of the more egregious regulations. Namely:
1. Eliminate the $200 fee for all volunteer caregivers and eliminate the illegal sales tax on medical marijuana.
2. Delete the registration requirement for doctors as well as the unwarranted course requirement in pain management in order for licensed physicians to recommend medical marijuana.
3. Eliminate the regulatory requirement for physicians to violate patient confidentiality and that section which interferes with the physician’s professional judgment.
4. Eliminate the regulatory requirement that requires physicians to provide warnings to patients that directly contradicts the law.
5. Add as an additional qualifying debilitating condition Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to accommodate the influx of recent military service veterans inasmuch as the DOH failed to establish the panel as required by N.J.A.C 8:64-5.1 to add new conditions.
6. Eliminate the requirement for parents to seek the approval of three licensed physicians in order to obtain medical marijuana for their child.
The packet of material also contains a summary of the changes A3525/S2312 will bring to the NJ Medicinal Marijuana Program. This is a much more comprehensive legislative fix of the MMP, that:
1. Eliminates the physician registry;
2. Expands qualifying conditions—includes PTSD, Alzheimer’s, Lyme or Parkinson’s Disease, hepatitis, nail patella & any condition causing severe or chronic pain, severe nausea or cachexia;
3. Restores limited home cultivation (five plants plus one or more mother plants) for patients--patients may grow themselves, use a registered grower, or use an Alternative Treatment Center;
4. Protects organ transplant patients from disqualification simply for the use of medical marijuana;
5. Eliminates the tax on the sale, use, cultivation and possession of marijuana;
6. Includes explicit employee protection—makes it unlawful to take adverse employment action simply for medical marijuana use;
7. Eliminates background check and fee for caregiver ID card;
8. Reduces ID card fee to $50 with no automatic expiration;
9. Eliminates requirement for psychiatric clearance for minors—keeps pediatrician requirement;
10. Requires initial and ongoing training for all state, county and local Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) on the rights of patients, growers and caregivers and trains LEOs in Field Sobriety Tests who may not simply rely on blood or urine tests for DUIs;
11. Includes explicit immunity from civil liability and criminal prosecution for the authorized use of medical marijuana;
12. Requires physicians to determine the form, strain and amount of marijuana for their patients and eliminates the two ounce/month limit, as the amount required is determined by patient need;
13. Allows patients to obtain medical marijuana from out-of-state if necessary and out-of–state ID cards are honored in New Jersey;
14. Cuts permit fees for Alternative Treatment Centers (ATCs) from $20,000 to $5000 and imposes no upper limit on the number of ATCs permitted;
15. Removes strain or potency limits imposed on marijuana cultivated;
16. Allows ATCs to dispense a 60-day supply of marijuana instead of current 30-day limit;
17. Permits any edible form of marijuana for any age;
18. Establishes dosage units for all forms in conjunction with Department of Health (DOH);
19. Requires testing in licensed laboratories on each batch of marijuana (and on request) for chemical composition, biologic contaminants, pesticides, solvents and foreign material with results of testing available on request;
20. Forbids the DOH to issue overly restrictive or unduly burdensome regulations for this law.

In summary, the MMP fails the vast majority of patients in NJ who:
Who know they can benefit from marijuana therapy;
Who see patients in other states obtaining relief with marijuana therapy for the same debilitating medical conditions that they have;
Thought they would be protected by having safe and legal access to marijuana therapy; and,
Who continue to suffer needlessly—and even die--in NJ, or who break the law and risk serious civil and criminal penalties for their use of an unauthorized medicine.

CMMNJ believes that the MMP is a case of Failure to Thrive.  This Failure to Thrive is not the result of a lack of ability on the part of the Health Department, but a lack of political will to create a meaningful program, and this is directly a result of Governor Chris Christie.

This governor has said that he is “done” expanding the medical marijuana program, apparently regardless of whatever evidence is presented to him. He has questioned the legitimacy of this program, and all 23 state programs like it, by saying these programs are just a “front” for legalization.

I worked in state government here in NJ for 25 years, all, or part of, five decades, actually. I know how the system works.  The governor appoints the commissioner of the Department of Health and that commissioner serves at the pleasure of the governor.  If the commissioner does not carry out the wishes of the governor, that commissioner is replaced.

I believe that public health is too important to be run this way.  The Commissioner of the Department of Health needs independence from the political whims of governors (especially those with presidential ambitions whose decisions may well not be based on the best interests of the people of the State of New Jersey).  A Health Commissioner in New Jersey could perhaps be independently elected, or else be given lifetime tenure after vetting.  Some solution must exist to ensure that public health decisions in NJ are based on sound science and not political whims or worse yet, delusions.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

CMMNJ 2/10/15 Meeting Agenda



Monthly Public Meeting Agenda 
Lawrence Township Library, Room #3
Tuesday, February 10, 2015, 7:00 PM -- 9:00 PM

Approve January 2015 minutes.  Discuss:

NJ Legislature:  Support NJ marijuana bills: A3525/S2312 (comprehensive MMP fix); S1896/A3094 (legalize, tax and regulate marijuana); A3726 (adds PTSD); A218 (decrim).
NLRB Hearing 3/16/15 in Philadelphia: UFCW Local 152 v. Egg Harbor CCF ATC.
“CMMNJ TV” is broadcasting from Princeton Community TV.  Episodes run for two weeks--Tues., 10 pm & Fri., 10:30 am on Comcast Ch. 30 & Verizon FIOS Ch. 45.  Next taping: 2/24.
“Petition for Rulemaking,” requests MMP regulatory changes; send letters of support to DOH.
AAP endorses limited pediatric use, rescheduling, & decrim for minors and young adults.

Upcoming Events:
“Medical Marijuana” Princeton House, 2/23/15, 12:15pm-1:30 pm with Dr. Jahan Marcu.
“Medical Marijuana: Myths & Medicine,” PA State Nurses Assn., 3/26/15 Millersville Univ.
Central NORML NJ meeting at Firkin Tavern, Ewing, NJ 2/18 (3rd Wed. of the month), 7pm.
March for the Love of Cannabis, 101 S. Market Street, Wilmington, Delaware, 2/14/15 at 4:20 pm.
NJ SPRING SMOKE-OUT Sat., March 21, 2:00pm New Jersey State House in Trenton
ASA’s National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference, March 27-31st in Washington, DC.
"Patients Out of Time" conference, W. Palm Beach, Florida, 5/21-23/15. http://bit.ly/1z3o1Y3
Trial of Jon Peditto, Toms River, 2/9/15.
“Cannabis and the Endocannabinoid System” webinar, Sunil Aggarwal, MD, 2/21/15, 1 pm-2pm: http://mycompassion.org/event-1832565

Recent events: “Fully Baked Radio” interview, 1/19/15. "Cannabis Frontier" interview, 1/24/15.

Treasury report: Checking: $3696; PayPal: $3526.

CMMNJ's meetings are the second Tuesday of each month from 7 - 9 PM at the Lawrence Twp. Library, 2751 Brunswick Pike, Lawrence Twp., 08648 Tel. #609.882.9246.  All are welcome.  (Meeting at the library does not imply Mercer County’s endorsement of our issue.)

More info:  Ken Wolski, RN, (609) 394-2137 ohamkrw@aol.com
http://www.cmmnj.org 

Facebook: Friends of CMMNJ:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/62462971150/?fref=ts

CMMNJ, a 501(c)(3) public charity, is a non-profit educational organization.



Monthly Public Meeting Minutes 
January 13, 2015

December 2014 minutes approved.  Discuss:

NJ legislature is back.  Marijuana bills include: A3726 (PTSD); A3525/S2312 (MMP fix); S1896/A3094 (legalize); A218 (decrim).

“CMMNJ TV” is broadcasting from Princeton Community TV.  Episodes run for two weeks--Tues., 10 pm & Fri., 10:30 am on Comcast Ch. 30 & Verizon FIOS Ch. 45.  Interview with Dr. Jahan Marcu scheduled for 1/24/15.

Support "East Coast Cannabis Coalition" on Facebook.

Update on Jim Price’s creating a Patient’s Handbook for CMMNJ.

CMMNJ awaits action on “Petition for Rulemaking” requesting MMP regulatory changes; write letters of support to DOH. Petition posted on CMMNJ web site. CMMNJ plans Op Ed when DOH decides on petition

Recent events: Sabina Rose Memorial, Statehouse, Trenton, 12/2/14; Jim Miller got Gov. Christie to join “Moment of Silence” for Sabina Rose.
DE NORML’s Annual Pot Luck Dinner 12/16; DE NORML Lobby Day 1/29/15.
Medical marijuana “Patients Panel” at Ramapo College, 11/13/14.
“Ignorance is No Excuse” tour distributes the MMP A.G. guidelines to local P.D.’s.
Central NORML NJ meeting at Firkin Tavern, Ewing, NJ 1/21/15 canceled due to snow.
“Homegrown Radio” interview posted 12/9.

Treasury report: Checking: $3611; PayPal: $3626. CMMNJ is selling hand-rolled hemp bracelets/necklaces from Romania @ $3 each or 2/$5.

CMMNJ, a 501(c)(3) public charity, is a non-profit educational organization.



Recent Media Coverage and Blogs:

LETTER: N.J. should overhaul restrictive pot law
http://www.app.com/story/opinion/readers/2015/01/08/letter-nj-overhaul-restrictive-pot-law/21452249/

New Funding For Privateer Highlights Marijuana’s Massive Market In The U.S.
http://techcrunch.com/2015/01/08/new-funding-for-privateer-highlights-marijuanas-massive-market-in-the-u-s/

Drug War Facts
http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/#sthash.pU9NSfj0.dpbs

No Smoke, but Haze Around E-Joint
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/13/health/with-the-e-joint-the-smoke-clears-.html?emc=edit_tnt_20150112&nlid=17961243&tntemail0=y&_r=0

NJWeedman’s Passing The Joint: Adventures in New Jersey Family Court
http://www.trentonian.com/opinion/20150114/njweedmans-passing-the-joint-adventures-in-new-jersey-family-court

Medical marijuana coming to Secaucus
Alternative Treatment Center projected to open this year
http://www.hudsonreporter.com/view/full_story/26402331/article-Medical-marijuana-coming-to-Secaucus--Alternative-Treatment-Center-projected-to-open-this-year-?instance=latest_story

Interview on Cannabis Frontier:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2dK9dLwHdI

Medical pot only OK for sick kids failed by other drugs: MDs
http://nj1015.com/medical-pot-only-ok-for-sick-kids-failed-by-other-drugs-mds/?trackback=tsmclip

Growing pains: Labor strife at N.J.'s first medical marijuana dispensary
http://www.philly.com/philly/business/labor_and_unions/20150129_Growing_pains__Labor_strife_at_N_J__s_first_medical_marijuana_dispensary.html#8Ws1Dr54BbT1F7Cs.99

How Medical Marijuana’s Chemicals May Protect Cells
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-medical-marijuana-s-chemicals-may-protect-cells/

Daily Marijuana Use Is Not Associated with Brain Morphometric Measures in Adolescents or Adults
http://www.jneurosci.org/content/35/4/1505.abstract

The Impact of Marijuana Policies on Youth: Clinical, Research, and Legal Update
http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2015/01/20/peds.2014-4146.full.pdf+html

Can medical marijuana curb the heroin epidemic?
http://theconversation.com/can-medical-marijuana-curb-the-heroin-epidemic-35287 

The Medical Minute: Cannabis Use Associated With Lower Body Mass
http://www.leafly.com/news/medical/the-medical-minute-cannabis-use-associated-with-lower-body-mass?fb_action_ids=10152629534818657&fb_action_types=og.comments

New Jersey Appeals Court Rules Cannabis Use Alone Not Reason to Remove Child
http://www.ladybud.com/2015/01/08/new-jersey-appeals-court-rules-cannabis-use-alone-not-reason-to-remove-child/

Parents Coalition for Rescheduling Medical Cannabis Makes Case for Sick Kids
http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1203560

Fully Baked Radio Interview 1/19/15:
http://www.hamiltonradio.net/index.php/component/content/article?id=359

95170: Medical Marijuana and Other Cannabinoids
https://www.netce.com/coursecontent.php?courseid=1128#chap.1

Why everybody should be allowed to Grow Marijuana at Home
https://www.marijuanadoctors.com/blog/medical-marijuana-recommendations/why-everybody-should-be-allowed-to-grow-marijuana-at-home

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Petition for Rulemaking – Medical Marijuana Regulations

October 14, 2014

Mary O'Dowd, Commissioner
New Jersey Department of Health
P.O. Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

Re:  Petition for Rulemaking – Medical Marijuana Regulations

Dear Commissioner O’Dowd:

Pursuant to N.J.A.C. 1:30-4.1, the Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey petitions for modifications to the existing regulations to provide effective access to medical marijuana for patients and specifically hospice patients. The petitioner seeks modifications to the existing regulations to comport with the statutory scheme and, for example, eliminates requirements such as doctor registration which is not required by the Compassionate Use Act. 

Full name and address of the petitioner.
Coalition for Medical Marijuana—New Jersey, Inc.
219 Woodside Avenue
Trenton, NJ 08618.  Tel.  609-394-2137.

The nature and substance of the rulemaking request
Petitioners request that the Department of Health (DOH) modify certain medical marijuana regulations as explained in this petition.  The proposals herein seek modification of the existing regulations to allow adequate access to medical marijuana for qualified patients as intended by the Compassionate Use Act by:

a.  Eliminating the $200 fee required in N.J.A.C 8:64-2.1(f) for all volunteer caregivers and eliminate the illegal sales tax on medical marijuana. 

b.  Deleting the clearly ultra vires registration requirement for doctors contained in N.J.A.C. 8:64-2.4, as well as the unwarranted course requirement in pain management in order for licensed physicians to recommend medical marijuana. 

c.  Eliminating the regulatory requirement in NJAC 8:64-2.5(a)6 which requires physicians to violate patient confidentiality and in (a) 9 of that section which interferes with the physician’s professional judgment.

d.  Eliminating the regulatory requirement in N.J.A.C 8:64-2.5(a)9i which requires physicians to provide warnings to patients that directly contradicts N.J.S.A 24:6I-2a.

e.  Adding as an additional qualifying debilitating condition Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to accommodate the influx of recent military service veterans inasmuch as the DOH failed to establish the panel as required by N.J.A.C 8:64-5.1 to add new conditions.   

f.  Eliminating the requirement in N.J.A.C. 8:64-2.5b for parents to seek the approval of three licensed physicians in order to obtain medical marijuana for their child.

The reason and basis for the request  
The below sub-paragraphs parallels those used in Paragraph 2 above.

a.  Most if not all the caregivers involved are volunteers who already have to pay for background checks and should not pay to render a necessary service to seriously ill patients. Moreover, there are over 30,000 hospice patients in NJ, all of whom statutorily qualify for medical marijuana but are unnecessarily hindered by the requirement that each of their caregivers pay $200 for a simple registration.  Elimination of this cost would ease the burden on all patients and especially those in hospice care enabling them to access a much needed medication.  As to the tax, NJSA 54:32B-8.1 specifically exempts any prescribed or over the counter medication.  That statute broadly defines “drug” to be any substance or preparation “intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease” or, “intended to affect the structure or any function of the body.”  No other medicine is taxed and this illegally treats marijuana used as medicine as an illegal drug--which it is not, when used pursuant to the Compassionate Use Act. The Technical Bulletin issued by the Division of Taxation on February 16, 2010--after passage of the Compassionate Use Act--recognized the expansion of the sales and use tax exemption for drugs. Nowhere does it even hint that there is any exception for medical marijuana. There is nothing in the Compassionate Use Act nor in the DOH’s Regulations regarding or even hinting at imposition of a sales tax.  This tax is blatantly illegal and the Regulation must reflect the non-taxable status of medical marijuana.   

b.  Fewer than 1% of the doctors in NJ have registered to provide medical marijuana.  This requirement is not in the statute and is entirely unnecessary.  All licensed New Jersey physicians are statutorily authorized in the Compassionate Use Act to authorize their patient’s use of medical marijuana.  Notably, such physicians are authorized to provide any patients in New Jersey with narcotics without any special registration with the DOH.  Additionally, there is no pain management course required for doctors to prescribe narcotics, which are far more dangerous than marijuana. Physicians are well aware that their right to prescribe narcotics is strictly controlled by the Federal Government.  Historically, the Federal Government has taken an adverse position to medical marijuana.  Although this position is possibly diminishing, there is no formal federal recognition of medical marijuana.  Thus, registration as a “pot doc” presents a real threat to a doctor’s right to prescribe narcotics. It thus poses a significant impediment to a doctor’s willingness to register as a medical marijuana provider, as documented by the few doctors willing to take the risk.

The legislature clearly did not intend for physicians to register or it would have so stated as it did for patients and caregivers.  The omission of physicians can only be seen as deliberate.  Section 6I-4 of the Act, specifically states that the department shall establish a registry of patients and primary caregivers.  Section 6I-5(a) of the act specifically states “in order to provide such certification, a physician shall be licensed and in good standing to practice in the state.”  Nowhere does the act even hint at a need for physicians, who are already licensed professionals, to register in order to recommend the use of marijuana. Logic, basic statutory interpretation and the reality of the situation all point toward no registration requirement for physicians.

c. There is no requirement in the act for doctors to provide any administrative agency with the specifics of the patient’s condition, diagnosis or course of treatment.  This is in accordance with Federal Law protecting patient’s rights to privacy. 

d. In the Compassionate Use Act, the legislature specifically stated that marijuana has been scientifically demonstrated to provide relief for certain conditions.  Section 6I-2a of the Act states: “Modern medical research has discovered a beneficial use for marijuana in treating or alleviating the pain or other symptoms associated with certain debilitating medical conditions, as found by the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine in March 1999.”   In direct refutation of the legislature’s finding, the DOH’s regulation requires doctors to make statements about marijuana that are completely untrue, more befitting a “reefer madness attitude” rather than a mature regulatory implementation and contrary to express legislative declarations.  The fact that the Department believes there is no consensus does not trump the legislature’s recognition of the great benefits science has documented for marijuana.  As to the demanded education on the “risk of addiction” the DOH may wish to take note that marijuana has been equated to the addiction risk of caffeine. If there is to be a mandated statement it should include that virtually ALL the regularly used drugs present significant dangers to health and even life itself whereas marijuana, if it does not help, will almost certainly do no harm.

e. Reliable scientific evidence documents that marijuana is an effective treatment for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  At the date of this application nine other states with medical marijuana programs have accepted its use to treat PTSD.  The DOH may wish to review studies documenting the science behind this position and to that end petitioner has attached a sampling of supporting sources (see Attachment).  If DOH desires, petitioner is prepared to submit numerous other sources. Thousands of New Jersey’s returning service members, suffering from PTSD and committing suicide in record numbers, would benefit from the use of medical marijuana.  Because the DOH has failed to follow the statutory mandate to form a panel to evaluate conditions, no conditions have been added in four years while these service members continue to suffer needlessly.  Again, as science documents, should marijuana not help the veteran, it will not harm him or her as will many other accepted treatments.

f.  In order to avoid additional financial and psychological burdens placed on families with children who benefit from the use of medical marijuana, petition requests elimination of N.J.A.C 8:64-2.5(b).  There is no requirement in the Compassionate Use Act that a minor requires not only a treating physician, but also a pediatrician and a psychiatrist before allowing use of medical marijuana.  The only requirement in Section 6I-5(b) of the Act is that the parent, guardian or legal custodian consents, and will control, acquisition and possession.  As a matter of fact, New Jersey has very few pediatric psychiatrists. Moreover, there is no benefit for a child possibly months old to have to undergo a psychiatric evaluation before allowing a treatment to stop life threatening seizures.  The regulation thus imposes not only an extremely expensive, entirely unnecessary burden but one not in accordance with the Act.  This is nothing less than an insult to parents who are solely acting in the best interest of their seriously ill child and an example of cruel bureaucratic overreaching.

SUMMARY
As currently written, the regulations not only fail to comport with both statutory language and intent, they intentionally serve to block patient access to a necessary medicine.  None of the requested changes poses any danger to the public or to patient welfare.  On the contrary, allowing the medical marijuana program to function as intended by the Act will divert patients from the illegal, and therefore wholly unregulated, drug market which these defective Regulations force upon them.  The current dysfunctional state of the program is well documented and that is solely because the Regulations fail to meet the documented needs of suffering people as intended by the Compassionate Use Act. 

As the alternative treatment centers (ATCs) themselves have pointed out, the impediments to patient access have caused serious damage to their ability to function.  If access were provided in accordance with the strict statutory mandates, the ATCs would be economically viable enterprises.  As the situation stands now, only two ATCs function with any regularity and the other ATC cannot provide any set times of operation.  The unnecessary and ultra vires burdens on access imposed by the existing regulations have forced most qualified patients to continue to rely on illegal black market sources for their marijuana.  This is a disgrace and the antithesis of the statutory intent that patients not be forced to become criminals. 

The petitioner’s interest and request, including without limitation, any relevant organizational affiliation or economic interest  
The Coalition for Medical Marijuana—New Jersey is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization formed and devoted to insuring that New Jersey patients have access to medical marijuana as authorized by law.  Members of the coalition testified at all legislative hearings leading up to the enactment of the Compassionate Use Act and provided evidence of scientific acceptance.  During this time and continuing to present, the Coalition has met with and discussed marijuana access and use with thousands of patients.  It is well acquainted with complaints from both patients and doctors which generated this petition for rulemaking to address their concerns. Although the Coalition cooperates with any person or entity advocating for patient access, it has no affiliations.  Similarly, the Coalition has no economic interest in the proposed changes to allow greater patient access other than eliminating the need to raise funds to fight for patient access.

The statutory authority under which the department may take the requested action  
The DOH was authorized by the Compassionate Use Act, NJSA 24:6I-16 to “promulgate rules and regulations to effectuate the purposes of this act, in consultation with the Department of Law and Public Safety.”

Emphasis should be placed on the phrase “to effectuate the purposes of this act.”   The statute specifically provides that marijuana is a legitimate medical treatment and should be made readily available to patients suffering from conditions enumerated in the statute. Under the current regulations this has not happened and without necessary changes, it will not happen, in direct contradiction to the clear statutory intent. 

Conclusion
For the reasons stated above, the petitioner respectfully requests the adoption of the rule modifications as explained above.

Respectfully submitted,

Kenneth Wolski, RN, MPA
Executive Director
Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc.
219 Woodside  Ave.
Trenton, NJ 08618

Attachment

Attachment
Research supporting use of cannabis to treat symptoms of PTSD
1.    Mashiah M, “Medical Cannabis as Treatment for Chronic Combat PTSD: Promising Results in an Open Pilot Study” Abarbanel Mental Hospital, Israel presented at Patients out of Time Conference, Tuscon (2012)
2.    Passie T, Emrich H, Karst M, Brandt, Halpern J, “Mitigation of post-traumatic stress symptom byCannabis resin: A review of the clinical and neurobiological evidence” Drug Testing and Analysis  (2012) 649-659
3.    Fraser G, “The Use of a Synthetic Cannabinoid in the Management of Treatment-Resistant Nightmares in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)” CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics 15 (2009) 84-88
4.    Pacher P, Baktaim Kunos G “The Endocannabinoid System as an Emerging Target of Pharmacotherapy” Laboratory of Physiologic Studies, National Institute of Alcohol and Alcoholism,  National Institutes of Health (2006) 58 389-462
5.    Ware M, Wang T, Shapiro S, Robinson A Ducruet T, Huynh T, Gamsa A, Bennett G, Collet J-P“Smoked cannabis for chronic neuropathic pain: a randomized controlled trial” Canadian Medical Association Journal (2010) 182(14)
6.    Abrams DI, Couey P, Shade SB, Kelly ME, Benowitz NL “Cannabinoid-Opioid Interaction in Chronic Pain” Nature Publishing Group (2011) 90(6) 844-851
7.    Fusar-Poli P et al., “Distinct effects of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol on neural activation during emotional processing”, Archives of General Psychiatry (2009) 66: 95-105
8.    Chhatwal JP et al., “Functional interactions between endocannabinoid and CCK neurotransmitter systems may be critical for extinction learning”, Neuropsychopharmacology (2009) 34: 509-521
9.    Chhatwal JP et al., “Enhancing cannabinoid neurotransmission augments the extinction of conditioned fear”, Neuropsychopharmacology (2005) 30: 516-524
10.  Lin HC et al., “Effects of intra-amygdala infusion of CB1 receptor agonists on the reconsolidation of fear-potentiated startle”, Learning & Memory (2006) 13: 316-321,
11.  Pamplona FA et al., “The cannabinoid receptor agonist WIN 55,212-2 facilitates the extinction of contextual fear memory and spatial memory in rats”, Psychopharmacology (Berlin) 188: 641-649, 2006
12.  Resstel LB et al., “5-HT receptors are involved in the cannabidiol-induced attenuation of behavioural and cardiovascular responses to acute restraint stress in rats” British Journal of Pharmacology (2009) 156: 181-189


46 NJR 12(1)
December 1, 2014
Filed November 10, 2014

PUBLIC NOTICE
HEALTH
THE COMMISSIONER
Notice of Receipt of Petition for Rulemaking
Revision of N.J.A.C. 8:64 Medicinal Marijuana Program Rules
Petitioner: Ken Wolski, RN, MPA, Executive Director, Coalition for Medical Marijuana - New Jersey, Inc., Trenton, NJ.

Take notice that on October 16, 2014, the Department of Health (Department) received a petition for rulemaking from Ken Wolski, RN, MPA, Executive Director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana - New Jersey, Inc., of Trenton, New Jersey.

Substance or nature of the requested rulemaking action

The petitioner requests that the Department make certain amendments to N.J.A.C. 8:64, the Medicinal Marijuana Program rules.
N.J.A.C. 8:64 implements the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (Act), N.J.S.A. 24:6I-1 et seq.

Problem or purpose of the request

The petitioner requests that the Department:
1. Eliminate the fee to apply for issuance or renewal of a primary caregiver identification card of $200.00 at N.J.A.C. 8:64-2.1(f);
2. Eliminate the sales tax on medical marijuana;2
3. Delete the requirement at N.J.A.C. 8:64-2.4 that physicians register with the Department to be eligible to submit a certification pursuant to N.J.A.C. 8:64-2.5;
4. Delete the “course requirement in pain management in order for licensed physicians to recommend medical marijuana”;
5. Delete N.J.A.C. 8:64-2.5(a)6, and 9, which establish some of the required content of a physician certification for a patient to be eligible to obtain medicinal marijuana from an alternative treatment center;
6. Add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the definition of “debilitating medical conditions” at N.J.A.C. 8:64-1.2; and
7. Delete the part of N.J.A.C. 8:64-2.5(b) that petitioner characterizes as “requiring parents to seek the approval of three licensed physicians in order to obtain medical marijuana for their child.”

http://www.nj.gov/health/legal/petitions.shtml