Friday, December 31, 2010

Coalition for Medical Marijuana—New Jersey Year End Report—2010

Marijuana was officially recognized as medicine in the State of New Jersey when Governor Jon Corzine signed into law the “New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act” on January 18, 2010.

Governor Chris Christie was inaugurated two days later and he asked for a delay in implementing the law. The legislature granted him a 90-day delay. The law went into effect on October 1, 2010. The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) published draft regulations, or rules, to enact the law shortly thereafter. However, those rules were considered by patients, advocates and legislators to be overly restrictive, and in some cases, actual amendments to the law. In a highly unusual move, both houses of the legislature passed resolutions that gave the DHSS 30 days to rewrite the rules for the Medicinal Marijuana Program. The DHSS has until January 13, 2011 to do so. If the DHSS does not produce acceptable rules by then, there will be further legislative action.

The Coalition for Medical Marijuana—New Jersey, Inc. (CMMNJ) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, educational organization, incorporated in the State of New Jersey. In 2010, CMMNJ held twelve monthly meetings at the public library in Lawrence Township, NJ. There, Board members and volunteers planned a number of events and educational programs. CMMNJ sent the agenda and minutes of these meetings via e-mail to approximately 2700 supporters each month.

Highlights of the year include:

• The original medical marijuana bill was introduced by Senator Nicholas Scutari, D-Linden, in January 2005. The State Senate approved the bill in February 2009. The Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee passed a substitute bill in June 2009. The substitute version of the bill was overly restrictive, eliminating home cultivation and chronic pain (the most frequently occurring qualifying condition), and placing restrictions on the physicians who could recommend marijuana. The Assembly approved the restrictive bill on January 11, 2010. The Senate then had to approve the substitute bill in a separate voting session. Many supporters of the bill attended the voting sessions. New Jersey became the 14th state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana. CMMNJ Executive Director, Ken Wolski, RN said, “We are grateful that the legislators finally acknowledged that marijuana is medicine and that patients in New Jersey who use it with a doctor’s recommendation should not fear arrest and imprisonment.”

• CMMNJ continued its support in 2010 for medical marijuana patients whose suffering was compounded by the criminal justice system. New Jersey multiple sclerosis (MS) patient John Ray Wilson was sentenced to 5 years in prison on 3/19/10 by Superior Court Judge Robert Reed. Wilson was briefly incarcerated in Somerset Co. Jail, and then transferred to the State Prison system. Wilson was released from prison on 4/29/10 pending appeal. Wilson was arrested on August 18, 2008 and was charged with “manufacturing” marijuana, despite his diagnosis of MS, despite a statement in support of medical marijuana by the National MS Society, and despite pending legislation that would protect MS patients who use medical marijuana in New Jersey. Wilson’s case shocked the conscience of the community when he was forbidden by the judge to mention his medical condition at trial, the only reason he used marijuana. State Senators Nick Scutari and Ray Lesniak joined in denouncing the prosecution of this ill man and asking the governor to pardon him. CMMNJ had hand-delivered a pardon request for Wilson to the Office of the Governor on 12/30/09.

• Arthur Buist, a 70-year-old medical marijuana patient from South Jersey, was arrested for growing 13 marijuana plants. Buist discussed his continuing ordeal at several CMMNJ meetings.

• CMMNJ wrote a letter to Congressman Holt expressing outrage on learning that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raided the home of medical marijuana caregiver Chris Bartkowicz, confiscated his property and arrested him on February 12, 2010 in Colorado. CMMNJ noted that this inordinate waste of public resources was compounded by the fact that the DEA special agent in charge of the Denver office was quoted as saying that marijuana “is not medicine.” “In addition to being patently incompetent to make such a statement, he is completely wrong,” CMMNJ said, “as hundreds of studies and the attestations of tens of thousands of patients has proven…even the US Supreme Court recognizes that if a state says that marijuana is medicine, then marijuana is medicine in that state. One would expect that the DEA agent responsible would, at a minimum, be disciplined for this wretchedly irresponsible conduct.” CMMNJ representatives also had a meeting with Sen. Menendez staff on 4/7/10 re: DEA raids.

• CMMNJ made widely available an important independent summary of marijuana laws and legal issues from the Congressional Research Service Report. See: http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/sourcefiles/MedicalMarjiuanaStatePolicies040210.pdf

• With the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act scheduled to take effect in July 2010, Gov. Christie asked for 6 – 12 month delay. CMMNJ held a Rally & Press Conference on June 4, 2010 on the State House steps in Trenton. CMMNJ also conducted a campaign to tell NJ state officials to implement the law as written. At the rally, Anne M. Davis, Executive Director of NORML-NJ said, “This is a law and there are no exceptions. There are patients with chronic or even terminal illnesses that cannot get an extension on life.”

• CMMNJ formed patient advisory groups to add qualifying conditions to the law. An Alternative Treatment Center (ATC) Advisory Board was also formed.

• CMMNJ held a very successful Medical Marijuana Stakeholders Meeting on Saturday, August 21, 2010 in conjunction with the national patient advocacy organization, Americans for Safe Access (ASA). This unique event took place in Trenton, NJ at the New Jersey State Museum Auditorium from 10:00 AM until 4:00 PM. Medical marijuana patients, their families, advocates, potential Alternative Treatment Center owners, and health care professionals attended the meeting. A benefit dinner with CMMNJ’s volunteers, Board members and ASA’s Steph Sherer took place on Friday night, 8/20/10 at the Princeton Hyatt.

• Sen. Nick Scutari introduced a Resolution to support the federal medical marijuana bill (HR 2835) which also reschedules marijuana. The senator met with CMMNJ representatives on 9/1/10. CMMNJ’s efforts in support of Sen. Scutari’s Resolution included a mailing to elected officials containing: A cover letter, the CMMNJ Op Ed published 9/12/10 in The Times of Trenton, “New Jersey must protect medical marijuana patients from conflicting state, federal laws,” and a DVD from Americans for Safe Access, “Medical Cannabis in California.”

• In August, CMMNJ provided written Testimony to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Health and Human Services Committee in support of HB 1393, the "Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act."

• Draft DHSS regulations (rules) to implement the Compassionate Use Act were published on the Department of Health and Senior Services’ (DHSS) web site on 10/6/10. CMMNJ immediately called the rules “burdensome, unnecessary amendments” that violate the intent of the law. CMMNJ members confronted Gov. Christie at the Ewing Town Hall meeting on 10/12/10. CMMNJ held a State House Press Conference and protest on 10/18/10. CMMNJ members testified against these rules at Senate and Assembly Committee hearings on 11/8/10. The Assembly voted on 11/22/10 to demand the rules be rewritten. The Senate agreed on 12/13/10. Thus, the entire NJ state legislature agreed that the proposed Medicinal Marijuana Program rules from the DHSS were inconsistent with the legislative intent of the Compassionate Use Act. The DHSS now has 30 days to re-write those rules. CMMNJ thanks all those who worked through NORML, change.org, and DPA NJ to convince the legislators of this.

• Please continue to submit written comments on the proposed DHSS rules, by regular mail, postmarked by 1/14/11 to Ruth Charbonneau, DHSS, P.O. Box 360, Trenton, NJ 08625.

• CMMNJ is grateful for the continuing, active support for medical marijuana in New Jersey from organizations such as the Drug Policy Alliance, Patients Out of Time, NORML and NORML NJ, the Marijuana Policy Project, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, DRCNet, Americans for Safe Access and the ARO list.

2010 CMMNJ Activities

CMMNJ began physician education of medical marijuana with Medical Grand Rounds at Trinitas Medical Center in Elizabeth, NJ on 9/23/10. CMMNJ also hosted a series of free, educational Medical Marijuana Info Seminars:
• Town Meeting at Collingswood Library, 3/20/10;
• MS Patients Support Group at Brick Hospital, 3/29/10;
• Jersey City Medical Marijuana Seminar on 4/23/10 at Grace Church Van Vorst.
• MS Patients Support Group at Morris Hall, Lawrence Twp., NJ on 4/25/10.
• MS Patients Support Group at Centra State Hospital, Freehold, 5/17/10.
• Medical Marijuana Info Seminar at Bayada Nurses of Morristown, NJ, on 5/12/10.
• MS Patients Support Group in Livingston, NJ, 7/12/10.
• Jahan Marcu, a Philadelphia cannabis researcher gave a summary of his research on cannabis and brain cancer and an update on international research and issues at the May & August CMMNJ meetings.
• Medical Marijuana Info Seminar at Garden State Elder Care, Elberon, NJ 9/24.
• Medical Marijuana Info Seminar at Louis Bay Library, Hawthorne, NJ 10/27.
• Joyce Murray, Esq., a local lawyer and land use expert, gave a presentation on zoning laws pertaining to ATCs at the September CMMNJ Meeting. Contact Joyce at: info@cmmnj.org

In 2010, CMMNJ representatives attended or appeared at the following:
• PhillyNORML Fundraiser at The Rotunda inPhiladelphia on 1/29/10.
• Day of Prayer for Wisconsin’s Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act, 3/23/10.
• The Sixth National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics, from Patients Out of Time on April 15 - 17, 2010 at the Crowne Plaze Hotel in Warwick, RI.
• PhillyNORML fundraiser at Blockley Pourhouse on 4/20/10.
• May 1, 2010 Marijuana Marches in New Brunswick, NJ and Philadelphia, PA.
• Jersey City Press Conference, 6/17/10 at City Hall.
• Trenton Rally & Press Conference, 6/4/10 on the State House steps.
• Southern Shore Music Festival, 6/19/10, Bridgeton, NJ.
• Project Freedom Wellness Fair, Lawrence Twp., 6/22/10.
• CMMNJ Benefit at Dingbatz in Clifton, NJ, 7/31/10.
• Gay Pride Parade 6/6/10, Asbury Park, NJ.
• QuickChek Balloon Festival, Readington, NJ, 7/23, 24 & 25.
• Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square Concert Series 8/11, 8/25 & 9/1.
• CMMNJ benefit dinner, Princeton Hyatt 8/20.
• Stakeholders Meeting with ASA’s Steph Sherer, Trenton, NJ 8/21.
• NORML conference, Portland, OR 9/9-11/10.
• Boston Freedom Rally, The Commons, Boston, Mass., 9/18/10.
• Diane Riportella fund raiser Gardiner’s Basin, Atlantic City, 9/25.
• 40th Annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival, Madison, WI 10/1-3/10.
• Lawrence Twp. Community Day, Bergen Park, 10/3/10.
• Rally with President Obama, Philadelphia, PA, 10/10.
• CMMNJ confronts Gov. at Ewing Town Hall, 10/12.
• State House Press Conference and protest held 10/18.
• Thanksgiving Day Parade, Trenton, NJ, 11/20/10.
• NORMLNJ Halloween Party, Pistol Pete’s, Pleasantville, NJ, 10/23/10.
• Hydro Comics Tour, Crossroads Tavern, Garwood, NJ 10/22/10.
• NJ League of Municipalities Conference, Atlantic City, NJ, 11/15-18/10.

CMMNJ began Patient Advisory Group meetings in 2010:
• City Hall Caucus Room in Jersey City, 10/20.
• Collingswood Public Library on 9/16 and 10/27.
• Wayne Public Library, Wayne, NJ, 10/21.
• Ocean City Public Library, Ocean City, NJ 10/28.

2010 CMMNJ publications and videos:
• “Governor Jon Corzine Signs Medical Marijuana Bill Into Law: New Jersey 14th State To Approve This Therapy,” by Ken Wolski, RN, New Jersey Nurse, January/February 2010 (Vol. 40 Number 1), page 8.
• “Attention : New Jersey Growers,” by Chris Goldstein 1/15/10: http://www.celebstoner.com/201001153558/blogs/chris-goldstein/attention-new-jersey-growers.html
• Judge Reed: Don't put John Wilson in prison, by Edward Hannaman, Esq., 1/10 http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/2010/01/judge-reed-dont-put-john-wilson-in.html
• “Tom's Story,” 2/15/10 by Ken Wolski, RN: http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/2010/02/toms-story.html
• “NJ: Man with MS who grew medical marijuana faces prison Friday,” by Chris Goldstein 3/16/10 http://www.examiner.com/norml-in-philadelphia/nj-man-with-ms-who-grew-medical-marijuana-faces-prison-friday
• “NJ MS patient: 5 year sentence for growing marijuana,” by Chris Goldstein, 3/19/10 http://www.examiner.com/norml-in-philadelphia/nj-ms-patient-5-year-sentence-for-growing-marijuana
• “Breaking: Wilson released, NJ Senators call for medical marijuana clemency,” by Chris Goldstein, 4/29/10 http://www.examiner.com/norml-in-philadelphia/breaking-wilson-released-nj-senators-call-for-medical-marijuana-clemency
• PhillyNORML 2010 Marijuana March Videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eI5uPdQpMCg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XR-6FQrnxg
• “Exploring the science of medical marijuana,” May/June 2010 edition of The American Nurse. (Ken Wolski, RN extensively quoted in national, professional periodical.)
• “PA: Chairman of W. Atlee Burpee and Co. jumps into marijuana policy,” by Chris Goldstein 6/10/10 http://www.examiner.com/norml-in-philadelphia/pa-chairman-of-w-atlee-burpee-and-co-jumps-into-marijuana-policy
• "Governor is messing with medical marijuana law," by Ken Wolski, The Times of Trenton, NJ: LTE, 6/22/10.
• NBC takes an inside look at a NJ medical marijuana dealer, June 30, 2010: http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local-beat/NYNJ-Medical-Pot-Dealer-Describes-Highs-and-Lows-of-Underground-Sales-97431334.html
• "Pot law puts N.J. in federal sights," by Ken Wolski, The Record of Bergen County, July 17, 2010: http://www.northjersey.com/news/opinions/98654779_The_Record__Letters__July_17__2010.html?c=y&page=1
• "Squeezing funds from medical pot is wrong" by Ken Wolski, LTE in The Times of Trenton, NJ, July 19, 2010: http://www.nj.com/opinion/times/letters/index.ssf?/base/news-2/1279518342281550.xml&coll=5
• “NJ: Medical Marijuana Stakeholders Meeting planned,” July 29, 2010 Chris Goldstein: http://www.examiner.com/norml-in-philadelphia/nj-medical-marijuana-stakeholders-meeting-planned
• “New Jersey must protect medical marijuana patients from conflicting state, federal laws” Op Ed by Ken Wolski, RN, Sunday, September 12, 2010: http://www.nj.com/opinion/times/oped/index.ssf?/base/news-1/1284183960101380.xml&coll=5
• “Implementing NJ medical marijuana law,” by Ken Wolski, RN, West Coast Leaf, Autumn 2010, page 26.
• “Looking for a job? NJ hiring for Medical Marijuana Program,” by Chris Goldstein, Oct. 8, 2010: http://www.examiner.com/norml-in-philadelphia/looking-for-a-job-nj-hiring-for-medical-marijuana-program
• Ewing Town Hall Video: “One middle-aged woman, who came in a wheelchair, said she probably won’t live to benefit from medical marijuana because of unresolved issues regarding its dispensation.”: http://www.trentonian.com/articles/2010/10/13/newsdoc4cb53eae0ecbf080398062.txt?viewmode=default
• “NJ: Limits on THC in medical marijuana unfounded,” by Chris Goldstein, 10/14/10: http://www.examiner.com/norml-in-philadelphia/nj-leave-thc-levels-unregulated
• “State's new rules for medical pot far too restrictive,” Op Ed, The Press of Atlantic City, Dr. Jeffrey S. Pollack, 10/14/10. http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/opinion/commentary/article_2d69f4e8-2cb5-50e2-a37c-64afd5b9f3d3.html
• “DHSS medicinal marijuana rules require much revision,” Op Ed October 19, 2010 by Ken Wolski, RN: http://www.nj.com/opinion/times/oped/index.ssf?/base/news-1/1287467128220520.xml&coll=5
• “Medical Marijuana,” LTE by Jim Miller 10/22/10: http://blog.nj.com/ledgerletters/2010/10/abstinence_education_isnt_ouda.html
• “NJ: Controversial doctor registry for marijuana begins,” by Chris Goldstein, 10/26/10: http://www.examiner.com/norml-in-philadelphia/nj-controversial-doctor-registry-for-marijuana-begins
• New Jersey's Medical Pot Regs Are a Joke 11/4/10 by Chris Goldstein: http://www.celebstoner.com/201011045145/blogs/chris-goldstein/new-jersey-medipot-regs-are-a-joke.html
• “Snuffing out medical marijuana” Newark Star Ledger Op Ed by Chris Goldstein, 11/17/10: http://blog.nj.com/njv_guest_blog/2010/11/snuffing_out_medical_marijuana.html
• “Weak ‘weed’ won't work,” LTE by Chuck Kwiatkowski, The Times of Trenton, 11/1710: http://www.nj.com/opinion/times/letters/index.ssf?/base/news-2/128997631393890.xml&coll=5
• “Marijuana therapy interruption is cruel” Op Ed, The Times of Trenton, by Ken Wolski, RN, 11/24/10: http://www.nj.com/opinion/times/oped/index.ssf?/base/news-1/129058113795481.xml&coll=5
• Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act effectively rescheduled marijuana in New Jersey 11/29/10: http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/2010_11_01_archive.html
• “NJ: Gov. Christie talks medical marijuana on Twitter” 11/29/10: http://www.examiner.com/norml-in-philadelphia/nj-gov-christie-talks-medical-marijuana-on-twitter
• Video: Testimony: New Jersey Medical Marijuana Regulations, by Chuck Kwiatkowski, 11/29/10: http://www.examiner.com/norml-in-philadelphia/testimony-new-jersey-medical-marijuana-regulations-video
• “NJ: Gusciora medical marijuana deal with Christie another bust for patients” by Chris Goldstein, 12/6/10: http://www.examiner.com/norml-in-philadelphia/nj-christie-and-gusciora-like-to-make-medical-marijuana-deals
• Mike K. PSA Burn Victim (Video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebVboGgwCdQ
• “NJ Senate: Support SCR 130--rewrite medical marijuana rules” 12/12/10: http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/2010/12/nj-senate-support-scr-130-rewrite.html
• “STATE VOTES FOR REWRITE OF MED. MARIJUANA POLICIES,” by Ocean City physician Steven Fenichel, 12/17/10. (Video): http://www.nbc40.net/news/15756/video
• “Poll shows NJ voters continue strong medical marijuana support” by Chris Goldstein, 12/22/10: http://www.examiner.com/norml-in-philadelphia/nj-voters-show-strong-medical-marijuana-support-new-poll
• “The Lack of Science Behind New Jersey's Medical Cannabis Laws” by Jahan Marcu, 11/14/10: http://www.examiner.com/medical-marijuana-in-philadelphia/the-lack-of-science-behind-new-jersey-s-medical-cannabis-laws
• An Open Letter to New Jersey Lawmakers Re: The Medicinal Marijuana Program rules, Ken Wolski, RN, 12/31/10: http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/2010/12/open-letter-to-new-jersey-lawmakers-re.html

Treasury Report:
In 2010 CMMNJ had income of $16,284.07 and expenditures $12,316.33. CMMNJ ended the year with $5,384.70 in its checking account and $3,247.13 in its Paypal account. The Annual Report was filed with the State of NJ, and Form was 990-N was filed with the IRS in April.

CMMNJ’s 2011 recommendations:
• Stop all federal harassment of medical marijuana patients and treatment centers.
• Reschedule marijuana to a more appropriate schedule.
• Implement the Compassionate Use Act in a way that brings timely access of high quality and affordable marijuana to qualified patients in a safe and secure manner.
• Seek out legislative leadership who will insist that the new rules do not come from a place of ignorance and fear, and that the new rules do not result in too few patients paying too much money for inferior marijuana. If there is continued delay by the Christie administration, CMMNJ will look to introduce additional legislation allowing for a general medical necessity defense, home cultivation, rescheduling of marijuana, and explicit workplace protection for patients. This will be the CMMNJ “Tool Kit.”

Board Update:
CMMNJ welcomed Svetislav Milic, R.Ph to our Board of Directors. On the CMMNJ Board, Svet joins Chris Goldstein, James Bissell, Peter Rosenfeld, Jim Miller, Edward R. Hannaman, Esq., and Ken Wolski, RN. The CMMNJ Advisory Board members in 2010 include Diane Fornbacher and Alan Marain, Esq.

2011 Public Meetings:
CMMNJ is committed to educating the public about the benefits of safe and legal access to medical marijuana for all patients who can benefit from it. CMMNJ meetings will continue in 2011 at the Lawrence Twp. Library (Mercer County) on the second Tuesday of each month from 7 – 9 PM. However, the library is not available to CMMNJ in August and November of the upcoming year. The Board will decide at a later date whether to change the venue for these two meetings or cancel them.

Thanks to CMMNJ Volunteers!
On behalf of the Board of Directors of CMMNJ, I would like to thank all of our supporters for their tireless efforts throughout the year. As we are an all-volunteer organization, we are nothing without you!

Ken Wolski, RN, MPA
Executive Director, Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey, Inc. www.cmmnj.org
219 Woodside Ave., Trenton, NJ 08618
609.394.2137
ohamkrw@aol.com

December 31, 2010

An Open Letter to New Jersey Lawmakers Re: The Medicinal Marijuana Program rules


















December 31, 2010

Dear NJ legislators:

The Medicinal Marijuana Program rules from Governor Christie’s Health Department (DHSS) guarantee that the fewest number of patients will pay excessive amounts of money for low quality marijuana. If, that is, the Alternative Treatment Centers (ATCs)--New Jersey's dispensaries--ever open. The rules proposed for the ATCs are such an onerous bureaucratic morass that they may never open.

DHSS Commissioner Alaigh said that the proposed rules are necessary so that “the law does not fuel underground illegal activity.”* But the rules do precisely that.

How can refusing to consider, for at least two full years, additional conditions to qualify for marijuana therapy stop illegal activity? It only prevents legitimate patients from gaining safe and legal access to marijuana and thus promotes illegal activity.

How can limiting the THC content of legal marijuana stop illegal activity? It only guarantees that patients who are given sub-therapeutic doses must suffer needlessly or access the illegal, underground market.

How can creating a physician registry stop illegal activity? The Health Department already knows who the licensed physicians in New Jersey are. This costly and unnecessary bureaucratic addition—uncalled for in the law—will only discourage program participation and limit patient access. It will fuel illegal activity.

How can demanding that ATCs--entrepreneurial non-profits--be programmed for failure by forcing them to mimic the culture of a bloated bureaucracy stop illegal activity? If the ATCs fail, or fail to even start, illegal activity continues to thrive.

Commissioner Alaigh seems to think that the Medicinal Marijuana Program is introducing marijuana to New Jersey. Nothing could be further from the truth. High school seniors in New Jersey have said for the past 30 years in a row that marijuana is “easy to get” or “fairly easy to get.”** NBC estimates that there are over 1000 unlicensed and illegal medical marijuana dealers in the state right now.*** The goal of the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act is to provide safe and legal access to marijuana therapy for qualified patients in a program run by the Health Department. An overly restrictive program—like the one recently rejected by the entire state legislature—only guarantees continued illegal activity.

Please see Senator Nicholas Scutari’s recent Op Ed**** on this subject. Sen. Scutari, D-Union, was the original sponsor of the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, when the bill was introduced into the legislature in January 2005. The bill was signed into law in January 2010. Sen Scutari notes that the entire NJ “Legislature recently invoked a rarely used constitutional power to require the Christie administration to go back to the drawing board to rewrite the rules governing the state’s medical marijuana law.”

These rewritten rules must ensure timely and affordable access to medical-grade marijuana for all qualified patients, in a safe and secure manner. The DHSS must include—not continue to ignore--the expert advice of medical marijuana patients and advocates for this program to be successful.

Ken Wolski, RN, MPA
Executive Director
Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc. www.cmmnj.org
219 Woodside Ave.
Trenton, NJ 08618
609.394.2137
ohamkrw@aol.com

* “Medical Marijuana Debate…Is Relief On the Way?” ONLY IN NEW JERSEY, with Steve Adubato, New Jersey Monthly, January 2011.

** monitoring the future—a continuing study of American youth: http://monitoringthefuture.org/data/10data/fig10_3.pdf (Availability--% saying “fairly easy” or “very easy” to get.)

*** NBC takes an inside look at a NJ medical marijuana dealer, June 30, 2010: http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local-beat/NYNJ-Medical-Pot-Dealer-Describes-Highs-and-Lows-of-Underground-Sales-97431334.html

**** “Compromise needed on medical marijuana,” December 28, 2010 By Nicholas Scutari, The Record, http://www.northjersey.com/news/opinions/mj_122810.html?c=y&page=1

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

NJ voters continue strong medical marijuana support

Poll shows NJ voters continue strong medical marijuana support

12/22/10 by Chris Goldstein - New Jersey residents continued to resoundingly support legal access to medical marijuana according to data released by The Quinnipiac University Polling Institute yesterday. The extensive poll largely concerned opinions held about Governor Chris Christie, the Legislature and other politicians. But some issues were also put to 1, 276 registered NJ voters, including medical marijuana.

Regardless of age, ethnicity, gender or political affiliation the people of New Jersey support the rights of seriously ill individuals having legal access to cannabis at a 76% overall total. However, the poll did not ask about the current debate over the regulations for the medical marijuana program.

READ FULL ARTICLE

Monday, December 13, 2010

Senate votes to re-evaluate medical marijuana rules

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 12/13/2010
The Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey CMMNJ

CONTACT: Ken Wolski 609 394 2137 ohamkrw@aol.com
Chris Goldstein media@cmmnj.org

Senate votes to re-evaluate medical marijuana rules

Today the New Jersey state Senate passed resolution ACR 151/SCR 130 by a vote of 22 to 16.

The entire legislature has now agreed that Governor Christie's proposed rules are outside the intent of the law. The Assembly passed the resolution on November 22nd.

CMMNJ is pleased that the New Jersey Legislature heard the concerns of severely ill residents in the continued fight for fair and legal access to marijuana. The vote today sends a strong message to the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) as well as Governor Christie that officials need to craft more reasonable rules for the medical cannabis program. This can only be accomplished by engaging in a transparent process that involves patients and advocates.

Now that the resolution has passed in the Senate and the Assembly there is a 30-day window for DHSS to re-write the regulations.

If the re-write is not accomplished or not crafted to the approval of the legislature then either house may call a public hearing on the medical marijuana regulations. The transcript of those hearings would be placed on the desk of all legislators for consideration on how to proceed.

CMMNJ hopes that Governor Christie is sincere in his effort to bring legal cannabis to qualifying NJ residents as soon as possible rather than continuing a protracted effort to alter the law.

More info is at www.cmmnj.org

CONTACT: Ken Wolski 609 394 2137 ohamkrw@aol.com
Chris Goldstein media@cmmnj.org

CMMNJ is the only tax-exempt 501c3 non-profit in New Jersey whose mission is to educate the public about the benefits of medical marijuana.

Watch the NJ Senate live stream today

This is a link to watch the NJ Senate session today

The resolution is ACR 151/ SCR 130

http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/media/live_audio.asp

Sunday, December 12, 2010

NJ Senate: Support SCR 130--rewrite medical marijuana rules


















On Monday, December 13, 2010 the New Jersey Senate will vote on resolution SCR130 which will require the Department of Health and Senior Services to change certain sections of the proposed medical marijuana regulations (rules). Patients and advocates support SCR130 because:

• The 10% cap on THC is arbitrary, capricious and inappropriate.
• The rules are stricter for Alternative Treatment Centers (ATCs) than they are for full service pharmacies. The rules so micromanage ATCs that none may ever get started.
• The law calls for a patient registry. The physician registry called for in the rules is unnecessary and will have a chilling effect on the program.
• The patient ID card application is impossible to complete as it requires the name and address of the non-existent ATC. Incomplete applications risk forfeiture of patient application fees.
• The DHSS, despite its power to add qualifying conditions to the law at any time, insists that patients must suffer until October 2013 before it will even consider accepting petitions to add qualifying conditions.
• The proposal by the state Board of Medical Examiners to make New Jersey doctors try to wean their patients off of medical marijuana every three months is nothing short of cruel, given the debilitating nature of the conditions that qualify for marijuana therapy.
• The DHSS says, “…the Act finds and declares that marijuana has beneficial uses in treating or alleviating pain or other symptoms associated with certain debilitating medical conditions.” Yet the DHSS continues to require physicians to attest that they “have provided education for the patient on the lack of scientific consensus for the use of medical marijuana.”
• DHSS clearly recognizes specific medical uses for marijuana and proposes a program for the safe delivery of marijuana to patients. Yet the DHSS continues to delay the rescheduling of marijuana in New Jersey from a Schedule I drug to a more appropriate schedule. Schedule I drugs have “no accepted medical uses” and are “unsafe for use even under medical supervision.”

Patients and advocates expect reasonable rules to enact the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana law. These rules should not be overly burdensome and unnecessary, or driven by fear, ignorance and hostility. More info is at www.cmmnj.org

Ken Wolski, RN, MPA, Executive Director
Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc. www.cmmnj.org
219 Woodside Ave., Trenton, NJ 08618 (609) 394-2137 ohamkrw@aol.com

Monday, December 6, 2010

CMMNJ December 2010 Meeting Agenda


















Monthly Public Meeting Agenda
Lawrence Twp. Library (Mercer County) Room #3
Tuesday, December 14, 2010; 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM


7:00 PM: Call meeting to order. Approve November 2010 minutes. Discuss:

On 11/22/10, the NJ Assembly approved a resolution to compel the Health Dept. (DHSS) to re-do their proposed medical marijuana regulations. The Senate is expected to vote by 12/13 on a concurrent resolution, SCR 130, which determines that the proposed rules are inconsistent with the legislative intent of the Compassionate Use Act. Send a pre-written letter through NORML: Tell Lawmakers to Make New Jersey's Medical Marijuana Law Workable. Sign the petition protesting these rules at www.change.org. DPA NJ also urges DHSS to amend the rules.

On 12/3/10, DHSS canceled the public hearing on the proposed new rules that was scheduled for 12/6/10. Gov. Christie proposed some "compromise" measures to keep the Senate from scrapping the DHSS rules. See the CMMNJ web site for more details.

Submit written comments on the proposed DHSS rules, by regular mail, postmarked by 1/14/11 to Ruth Charbonneau, DHSS, P.O. Box 360, Trenton, NJ 08625. More info is below.

Upcoming CMMNJ events: Press Conference, Trenton War Memorial, 12/6 at noon.
Stone Pony, Asbury Park, 4-day music event, 12/26 – 12/29. Web site revamp.

Recent CMMNJ events: NJ League of Municipalities conference, Atlantic City 11/15-18/10. Trenton Thanksgiving Day Parade, 11/20/10.

Treasury report: Checking: $5,733; PayPal: $3,259. Tax-deductible donations to CMMNJ, a 501(c)(3) public charity, may be made through Paypal on our web site, or send a check made out to “CMMNJ” to the address below. Get a free t-shirt for a donation above $15—specify size.

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

Ken Wolski, RN, MPA, Executive Director, Coalition for Medical Marijuana—New Jersey, Inc. 219 Woodside Ave., Trenton, NJ 08618 (609) 394-2137 ohamkrw@aol.com www.cmmnj.org



















Monthly Public Meeting Minutes
Tuesday, November 9, 2010; 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM


7:00 PM: Call meeting to order. October 2010 minutes approved. Discussion:

On 11/8, patients, advocates and potential ATC owners testified for four hours at NJ Senate and Assembly committee hearings on Resolutions which will compel the DHSS to completely re-do their draft medical marijuana regulations. CMMNJ called the rules “Kafkaesque” and “burdensome, unnecessary amendments” that violate the intent of the law. The resolutions passed out of committee and are due for a floor vote shortly. State House Press Conference and protest held 10/18.

DHSS held informational meeting for ATC applicants at the Trenton War Memorial on 10/13. DHSS says any marijuana with greater than 10% THC has to be destroyed. Participants reported a chilling environment, meant to instill fear—treating marijuana like radioactive material.

Proposal discussed to have ATC applicants form an Association. Marianne Bays & Greg to coordinate this. Sandy Faiola is the current poster girl for CMMNJ. Funds for Diane Riportella: please call (609) 703-9433 or (609) 965-6187 & ask for Amelia, or you can e-mail gifts-for-diane@comcast.net.

CMMNJ also supports Sen. Scutari’s other Resolution to pass the federal medical marijuana bill (HR 2835) which also reschedules marijuana.

Recent CMMNJ Events: Patient Advisory Group meetings held in Jersey City, 10/20; Wayne, 10/21; Collingswood, 10/27; & Ocean City, 10/28. The Hydro Comics Tour, Crossroads Bar, Garwood, NJ 10/22; NORML NJ Halloween Party, Pistol Pete’s, Pleasantville, NJ, 10/23; Asbury Lanes, Asbury Park, 10/24; Louis Bay Library, Hawthorne, NJ 10/27. Web site revamp?

Treasury report: Checking: $6,404; PayPal: $3,073.

The next CMMNJ meeting will be 11/9/10 (the second Tuesday of each month.)


















Marijuana rules must be eased
http://www.app.com/article/20101113/OPINION01/11130312/Marijuana-rules-must-be-eased

N.J. Assembly votes against Christie's medical marijuana rules, but Senate delays action

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/11/nj_assembly_calls_on_christie.html

Legislature is right to kill Christie's pot rules
http://blog.nj.com/njv_editorial_page/2010/11/legislature_is_right_to_kill_c.html

People and Power:

http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/news/press/new_jersey/article_7f3389f7-3dfa-5bce-b82e-6773fd15a607.html

Gov. Christie softens stance on production, distribution of medical marijuana

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/12/gov_christie_softens_stance_on.html

New Jersey Closer to Sales of Medical Marijuana

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/04/nyregion/04marijuana.html?_r=2&ref=marijuana

Medical marijuana issue in N.J. pits pain-relief proof against politics
http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/12/medical_marijuana_issue_in_nj.html

NJ: Gov. Christie talks medical marijuana on Twitter

http://www.examiner.com/norml-in-philadelphia/nj-gov-christie-talks-medical-marijuana-on-twitter

Legalize medical marijuana video posted by multiple sclerosis patient
http://blog.nj.com/connect/2010/11/legalize_marijuana_video_posted_by_multiple_sclerosis_patient.html

Group aims to grow medical marijuana

http://www.strausnews.com/articles/2010/11/12/west_milford_messenger/news/11.txt

RULE PROPOSALS
HEALTH AND SENIOR SERVICES
PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICES BRANCH
ENVIRONMENTAL AND OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH SERVICES DIVISION
MEDICINAL MARIJUANA PROGRAM
http://www.state.nj.us/health/prop_medicinal.pdf
Submit written comments by January 14, 2011 to:
Ruth Charbonneau, Director
Office of Legal and Regulatory Affairs
Office of the Commissioner
New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services
PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

RULE PROPOSALS
VOLUME 42, ISSUE 22
ISSUE DATE: NOVEMBER 15, 2010
Law and Public Safety
Division of Consumer Affairs
BOARD OF MEDICAL EXAMINERS
http://www.nj.gov/oag/ca/proposal/bmepro_111510.HTM
Submit comments by January 14, 2011 to: William Roeder, Executive Director, Board of Medical Examiners, 140 East Front Street, P.O. Box 183, Trenton , NJ 08625

RULE PROPOSALS
VOLUME 42, ISSUE 22
ISSUE DATE: NOVEMBER 15, 2010
Law and Public Safety
Division of Consumer Affairs
OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR
http://www.nj.gov/oag/ca/proposal/dirpro2_111510.HTM
Submit comments by January 14, 2011 to: Thomas R. Calcagni, Acting Director, Division of Consumer Affairs, P.O. Box 45027, Newark , NJ 07101















Snuffing out medical marijuana

http://blog.nj.com/njv_guest_blog/2010/11/snuffing_out_medical_marijuana.html

Published: Wednesday, November 17, 2010, 11:19 AM
Star-Ledger Guest Columnist
By Chris Goldstein

Gov. Chris Christie is engaging in an ugly game of politics when it comes to implementing the medical marijuana law. The draft regulations from the Department of Health and Senior Services show science that was selected with a political bias and a strong influence from special interest groups.

Qualifying New Jersey residents will remain in the crossfire between Christie and a law he openly opposes unless the Legislature acts decisively.

New Jersey passed the most limited compassionate use law in the country. Polling shows 82 percent of residents support it. Now, the Christie administration is proposing a sterilized cannabis program with regulations tailored for big business. Enacting the draft regulations from DHSS would effectively crush the holistic model of cannabis therapy here, except underground.

DHSS did meet with local advocates, but nothing was shared. I was invited to two meetings at the DHSS as a representative of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey. Officials explained a general proposed time line, but revealed nothing as to their detailed plans for the program.

DHSS never asked about the new physician registry, THC limits and the defined practices of the Alternative Treatment Centers or anything else in the cadre of new limitations. The perspective of patients and advocates was dismissed in the rules-making process.

Earlier this year, Rutgers University and the New Jersey Council of Teaching Hospitals were considered for monopolies over cultivation and distribution. Christie championed the idea. But after university officials conducted a few moments of due diligence, the school backed away.

Rutgers was just the public face of many influential businesses that continue to harbor a burning desire to be involved with medical marijuana. For example, hospitals were subtly written into the draft regulations.

Last month, DHSS published some special-interest endorsements for the marijuana program. This is an irregular action ahead of the official public comment period. There were no endorsements from sick and dying New Jersey residents, whom the law is meant to help. Potentially qualifying patients have expressed nothing but outrage at the draft rules.

The nonprofit medical marijuana advocacy groups in New Jersey, the sponsor legislators and now Senate and Assembly committees agree that the DHSS limitations are far outside the intent of the law.

The term "medical marijuana" means more than just the plant; it means an entire system of compassionate care. Hundreds of thousands of Americans find relief today in 13 states with working programs.

Under the guise of avoiding problems in other states, the governor and DHSS would have inexperienced health groups try their hand at cannabis here. The result will cut out expert small businesses and keep patients underground.

The governor and DHSS officials could still create a program more in tune with real world patient needs rather than a flood of desk-drawer rules.

Patients and advocates remain willing to work with the administration.

Otherwise, New Jersey may get a Soviet-style medical cannabis program that is missing the compassion and choices that the law was meant to provide or worse: nothing at all.

Chris Goldstein is on the board of directors for the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey and NORML-NJ. He may be contacted at media@cmmnj.org.

Have a comment? Visit njvoices.com.
© 2010 NJ.com. All rights reserved.
















Marijuana therapy interruption is cruel
http://www.nj.com/opinion/times/oped/index.ssf?/base/news-1/129058113795481.xml&coll=5
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The proposal by the state Board of Medical Examiners (BME) to make New Jersey doctors try to wean their patients off of medical marijuana every three months is simply another example of how the crafting of medical marijuana regulations is being driven by fear, ignorance and hostility ("Christie: Tighten rules on medical marijuana," Nov. 16).

The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act is already the most restrictive of all such laws in the nation. The qualifying conditions are severely limited and include any patient with a diagnosis of less than 12 months to live. Now the BME is insisting that doctors periodically stop a medication that brings relief to a dying patient "in an effort to reduce the potential for abuse or dependence." It is absurd and cruel. Drug dependence is simply not an issue for a patient with only months to live.

Another qualifying condition is seizures, including epilepsy. After all the routine anticonvulsant medications have been proven ineffective in controlling a patient's seizures, a patient may be greatly relieved to find that his seizures have finally been brought under control by marijuana. This was true for Tim DaGiau, a young man from Clifton who presented written testimony to the New Jersey Assembly Health Committee in 2009. Mr. DaGiau also endured five painful and expensive surgical procedures on his brain in unsuccessful attempts to control his seizures, which were finally brought under control by daily doses of marijuana. Mr. DaGiau had to leave his family and his home and take up residence in Colorado, where he could legally obtain marijuana. His performance in college greatly improved once he stopped having frequent seizures. Far from impeding his productivity, his daily marijuana use enabled him to be successful. Now, patients like Mr. DaGiau, back in New Jersey, will periodically have to stop the medical use of marijuana, decrease the quantity that was authorized, or try other drugs or treatments so the doctors can watch them have seizures again. The rule is an outrage.

Or consider another qualifying condition -- glaucoma. Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in the U.S. because, for many patients, traditional medication is ineffective in controlling the pressure inside the eyes that causes it. Marijuana can relieve this intraocular pressure. Marijuana must be considered a life-long maintenance treatment in these cases. The alternative is permanent blindness. These patients should never be subject to periodic treatment interruptions.

Or consider multiple sclerosis (MS), one of a few neurological conditions that qualify for marijuana therapy under the New Jersey law. The expert opinion paper of the National Clinical Advisory Board of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, "Recommendations Regarding the Use of Cannabis in Multiple Sclerosis" (2009), affirmed that marijuana could control the symptoms of MS, especially pain and muscle spasms. The experts acknowledged that traditional therapies were often ineffective in relieving the symptoms. But the MS experts went further and acknowledged that marijuana had neuroprotective qualities and could possibly delay the progression of the dread disease. With the new rule, if an MS patient is experiencing symptom control under marijuana therapy, the physician is then required to reduce or stop the dosage periodically until the patient's symptoms increase. During the therapy interruption, the patient will also lose the unseen neuroprotective benefits of marijuana and the course of the progressive disease will be hastened. It is no wonder that certain medical practices are looked upon, through the hindsight of history, to be horrors. The proposed new rule will be one of them.

Nor is dependence a major concern with marijuana. Less than 10 percent of users experience noticeable withdrawal symptoms, even after heavy, long-term use of marijuana. These withdrawal symptoms, when noticed, are typically mild and include irritability and sleep disturbance. There are no serious withdrawal symptoms like those noted with alcohol (delirium tremens, seizures, death); heroin (flu-like symptoms); or nicotine (intense craving). The addiction potential for marijuana is about equivalent to that of caffeine. You might be irritable and have some sleep disturbance if someone takes your daily cup of coffee away, but it is not something that a physician needs to stop every three months to see if you are addicted to it.

The New Jersey BME clearly lacks education about marijuana and experience with medical marijuana therapy. Physicians, or others who are experts in this specialized area, should be the ones proposing the new rules.

Ken Wolski, RN, MPA, is executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey Inc. (cmmnj.org).

©2010 Times of Trenton
© 2010 NJ.com All Rights Reserved.
















Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act effectively rescheduled marijuana in New Jersey

Ms. Joanne Boyer, Executive Director
Board of Pharmacy
PO Box 45013
Newark, NJ 07101

November 23, 2010

Re: Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act effectively rescheduled marijuana in New Jersey

Dear Ms. Boyer:

The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (the Act) effectively rescheduled marijuana in New Jersey. The passage of the Act is inconsistent with the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I medication under the New Jersey Controlled Dangerous Substances Act, N.J.S.A. 24:21-2.

According to N.J.S.A. 24:21-2, a substance is Schedule I if the substance: “(1) has high potential for abuse; and (2) has no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States; or lacks accepted safety for use in treatment under medical supervision.”

But the very rules that the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services propose to implement the Act note that “the Act finds and declares that marijuana has beneficial uses in treating or alleviating pain or other symptoms associated with certain debilitating medical conditions.” Elsewhere in the proposed rules, the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners note that “the Act authorizes the use of marijuana to treat or alleviate pain or other symptoms associated with certain specifically identified debilitating medical conditions.” The Act and these proposed rules establish a program for the safe use of marijuana, under medical supervision, in the treatment of a variety of diseases and symptoms. The Act is entirely inconsistent with marijuana’s continued inclusion in New Jersey’s list of Schedule I drugs.

Other drugs listed as Schedule I include heroin, Peyote and Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). Clearly, these are drugs that have no current, accepted medical uses in the United States. But just as clearly, marijuana has recognized medical uses in the United States. So far 15 states and the District of Columbia have removed penalties for patients who use medical marijuana. Time magazine estimates that over 369,000 patients are currently using marijuana with their physicians’ recommendations in the one-third of the U.S. that has these programs. Time also notes in its November 22, 2010 edition, “More than a dozen other states are considering the idea.” A number of national medical organizations urge immediate legal access to marijuana for patients who would otherwise suffer needlessly or become lawbreakers. The organizations that recognize accepted medical uses for marijuana include the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Public Health Association, the American Nurses Association and the American College of Physicians. Even the American Medical Association last year endorsed marijuana’s rescheduling on a federal level.

Please have the New Jersey Board of Pharmacy recognize and declare that marijuana has been rescheduled in New Jersey by this Act. Then the Board of Pharmacy could join with its health care colleagues noted above and petition the federal government to reschedule marijuana throughout the entire U.S.

Thank you for your anticipated cooperation in this matter.

Sincerely yours,

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

Friday, December 3, 2010

ALERT - Gov. Christie cancels medical marijuana hearing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 12/3/2010
The Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey CMMNJ
www.cmmnj.org


CONTACT:
Ken Wolski 609 394 2137 ohamkrw@aol.com


UPDATE: - Gov. Christie cancels medical marijuana hearing at War Memorial
- CMMNJ press conference also canceled


CMMNJ comments on the Governor’s Medical Marijuana "compromise" and cancellation of the DHSS Public Hearing from executive director Ken Wolski:

CMMNJ is glad to see that the Governor is trying to craft regulations that are more closely in line with the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, but much work remains to be done.

We are glad that the ATC’s will be the way the law intended them to be. But this can hardly be considered a compromise—the law was quite clear that all ATCs should be responsible for cultivation, processing and distribution of medical marijuana. The rules still regulate ATCs more strictly than full service pharmacies are regulated, and this is inappropriate.


Similarly, the rules should never have required physicians to include a statement that each and every patient “has not responded to conventional medical treatment.” We are glad that the rules are returning to the language of the law, which currently requires only a few diagnoses to be resistant to conventional treatment in order to qualify for marijuana therapy.

Patients and advocates still have a number of serious concerns and strenuous objections to many provisions in these deeply flawed proposals which are not only contrary to law but which will only serve to further harm already suffering people.


* The 10% cap on THC is arbitrary, capricious and inappropriate.


* The law calls for a patient registry. It does not require physicians to register in order to certify that patients have a qualifying condition. This registration process is unnecessary, outside the scope of the law and will have a chilling effect on the program.


* The DHSS has said on their web site for months that pain patients would be included in the law. Now they have restricted chronic pain eligibility only to cancer and AIDS patients. Gov. Christie misinformed Pat Layton of Cape May Court House this past August. Ms Layton asked the governor about the availability of medical marijuana because she suffers from back pain due to nerve damage. Layton said the governor told her that medical marijuana would be available for people with the kind of pain she experiences. But it won’t be. The DHSS, despite its power to add qualifying conditions to the law at any time, states patients must suffer, at a minimum, until October 2013 before the DHSS will even consider accepting petitions to add qualifying conditions. Tens of thousands of New Jersey pain patients who have waited for the Compassionate Use Act to take effect will now find that the very law that was passed to protect them and provide them relief does still not protect them.


* The DHSS says, “…the Act finds and declares that marijuana has beneficial uses in treating or alleviating pain or other symptoms associated with certain debilitating medical conditions.” Yet the DHSS continues to require physicians to attest that they “have provided education for the patient on the lack of scientific consensus for the use of medical marijuana.”


* Governor Christie has said that he will not permit a “relaxation” of the regulations, and the entire DHSS staff is following his lead. Medical decisions about this program are being made not in the realm of science but in the realm of politics. The Health Department should function for public health, not a political agenda.


* DHSS clearly recognizes specific medical uses for marijuana and proposes a program for the safe delivery of marijuana to patients. It should not delay for even a moment the rescheduling of marijuana from a Schedule I drug to a more appropriate schedule. The New Jersey Controlled Dangerous Substances Act, (N.J.S.A. 24:21-2) defines a Schedule I drug as one that “has no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States; or lacks accepted safety for use in treatment under medical supervision.”

Patients and advocates have worked hard for many years to get this law passed. They should expect reasonable regulations to enact the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana law that are not overly burdensome and unnecessary.


CONTACT: Ken Wolski ohamkrw@aol.com 609 394 2137

www.cmmnj.org


CMMNJ is the only tax-exempt 501c3 non-profit in New Jersey whose mission is to educate the public about the benefits of medical marijuana.

CMMNJ plans press conference at New Jersey medical marijuana hearings

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 12/3/2010
The Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey - CMMNJ
www.cmmnj.org

MEDIA NOTE: Location changed for public hearing

CONTACT: Ken Wolski 609 394 2137 ohamkrw@aol.com


CMMNJ plans press conference at New Jersey medical marijuana hearings

Trenton - The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) will hold a public hearing on the proposed regulations for the medical marijuana program next week. The hearing takes place Monday December 6, 2010 starting at 10:00AM. The location has been moved to the auditorium at the New Jersey War Memorial building in Trenton.

CMMNJ is planning a press conference at the War Memorial front steps at 12 noon with patients and advocates who will testify at the hearing.

Ken Wolski is a Registered Nurse and executive director of CMMNJ. He issued the following statement today:

“The rules from DHSS propose amendments to the medical marijuana law not merely regulations to enact it. Many of the new requirements are burdensome and unnecessary far exceeding the already restrictive language of the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act.

Governor Christie has said that he will not permit these rules to be revised, so we can only hope that the public comment period with the DHSS is not merely an exercise in futility. Ultimately the New Jersey Legislature needs to intervene to protect the integrity of our law and insist that these rules be revised.”


This summer the Christie Administration requested a 1-year delay in implementing the program. Instead, the Legislature granted an extra 90 days. Under the current time-line the medical marijuana program is supposed to become operational in January 2011.

In November both Assembly and Senate Committees forwarded a resolution that would force a re-evaluation of the proposed regulations. Strong patient testimony was featured at the committee hearings. The Assembly then passed the resolution ACR 151 in a floor vote. Senate voting is expected on 12/13.

The DHSS public hearing on Monday is just one part of the official public comment process for the medical marijuana regulations. Detailed written comments must be submitted via regular mail to various state departments for consideration by January 14, 2011.

CONTACT: Ken Wolski or Chris Goldstein, 609 394 2137

www.cmmnj.org


CMMNJ is the only tax-exempt 501c3 non-profit in New Jersey whose mission is to educate the public about the benefits of medical marijuana.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act effectively rescheduled marijuana in New Jersey

Ms. Joanne Boyer, Executive Director
Board of Pharmacy
PO Box 45013
Newark, NJ 07101

November 23, 2010

Re: Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act effectively rescheduled marijuana in New Jersey

Dear Ms. Boyer:

The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (the Act) effectively rescheduled marijuana in New Jersey. The passage of the Act is inconsistent with the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I medication under the New Jersey Controlled Dangerous Substances Act, N.J.S.A. 24:21-2.

According to N.J.S.A. 24:21-2, a substance is Schedule I if the substance: “(1) has high potential for abuse; and (2) has no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States; or lacks accepted safety for use in treatment under medical supervision.”

But the very rules that the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services propose to implement the Act note that “the Act finds and declares that marijuana has beneficial uses in treating or alleviating pain or other symptoms associated with certain debilitating medical conditions.” Elsewhere in the proposed rules, the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners note that “the Act authorizes the use of marijuana to treat or alleviate pain or other symptoms associated with certain specifically identified debilitating medical conditions.” The Act and these proposed rules establish a program for the safe use of marijuana, under medical supervision, in the treatment of a variety of diseases and symptoms. The Act is entirely inconsistent with marijuana’s continued inclusion in New Jersey’s list of Schedule I drugs.

Other drugs listed as Schedule I include heroin, Peyote and Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). Clearly, these are drugs that have no current, accepted medical uses in the United States. But just as clearly, marijuana has recognized medical uses in the United States. So far 15 states and the District of Columbia have removed penalties for patients who use medical marijuana. Time magazine estimates that over 369,000 patients are currently using marijuana with their physicians’ recommendations in the one-third of the U.S. that has these programs. Time also notes in its November 22, 2010 edition, “More than a dozen other states are considering the idea.” A number of national medical organizations urge immediate legal access to marijuana for patients who would otherwise suffer needlessly or become lawbreakers. The organizations that recognize accepted medical uses for marijuana include the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Public Health Association, the American Nurses Association and the American College of Physicians. Even the American Medical Association last year endorsed marijuana’s rescheduling on a federal level.

Please have the New Jersey Board of Pharmacy recognize and declare that marijuana has been rescheduled in New Jersey by this Act. Then the Board of Pharmacy could join with its health care colleagues noted above and petition the federal government to reschedule marijuana throughout the entire U.S.

Thank you for your anticipated cooperation in this matter.

Sincerely yours,

Ken Wolski, RN, MPA
Executive Director
Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc. www.cmmnj.org
219 Woodside Ave.
Trenton, NJ 08618
609.394.2137
ohamkrw@aol.com



Star-Ledger: Legislature is right to kill Christie's pot rules

Ten months after the medical marijuana law was passed, with a poll now showing 82 percent of New Jerseyans favor it, you’d think suffering patients would be getting relief. But passing the bill was the easy part. Now the Legislature has to force Gov. Chris Christie to implement it.
READ FULL ARTICLE: Legislature is right to kill Christie's pot rules

Gov Christie talks with medical marijuana patients on Twitter

Here’s some of the conversation Chuck has been having with Gov Christie on Twitter.

Nov 26- mmjblog Charles Kwiatkowski: @GovChristie Show compassion for patients in NJ and reverse the unworkable medical marijuana regulations proposed by the DHSS.

Nov 26 GovChristie Governor Christie : @mmjblog NJ will not be allowed to become California or Colorado on my watch. Our regs will permit the truly sick to obtain pain relief.

Read full article: NJ: Gov Christie talks medical marijuana on Twitter


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

KenWolski: Marijuana therapy interruption is cruel

Marijuana therapy interruption is cruel
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
SPECIAL TO THE TIMES


By Ken Wolski

The proposal by the state Board of Medical Examiners (BME) to make New Jersey doctors try to wean their patients off of medical marijuana every three months is simply another example of how the crafting of medical marijuana regulations is being driven by fear, ignorance and hostility ("Christie: Tighten rules on medical marijuana," Nov. 16).

The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act is already the most restrictive of all such laws in the nation. The qualifying conditions are severely limited and include any patient with a diagnosis of less than 12 months to live. Now the BME is insisting that doctors periodically stop a medication that brings relief to a dying patient "in an effort to reduce the potential for abuse or dependence." It is absurd and cruel. Drug dependence is simply not an issue for a patient with only months to live.

READ FULL OPED at the Times of Trenton


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

NJ: Assembly rejects medical marijuana limits

NJ: Assembly rejects medical marijuana limits

by Chris Goldstein 11/23/10 - The New Jersey Assembly sent a strong message to the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) that the new limitations on the medical marijuana program are outside the compassionate use law’s intent. Resolution ACR 151 was passed yesterday 48-22-7.

Although voting was also expected in the state Senate sponsor Nicholas Scutari grudgingly removed the concurrent resolution at the last minute. Some supporting Senators were absent for the session and he wanted to be sure of the best chance for passage. SCR 130 may now see floor voting on December 9, 2010.

Read full article



Media, editorials on NJ medical marijuana

Some of the recent media coverage and newspaper editorials regarding the state's medical marijuana law.

Courier-Post: Medical Marijuana rules need adjusting

Daily Record: Medicinal pot not working as planned

Star-Ledger: Easing of N.J. medical marijuana rules stalls in Senate from lack of support

Star-Ledger: NJ Assembly calls on Christie to relax medical marijuana rules

Ken Wolski in the Times of Trenton: DHSS medicinal marijuana rules require much revision

Dr. Poonam Alaigh in the Times of Trenton: Medicinal Marijuana Program assures patient access

Chris Goldstein in the Star-Ledger: Snuffing out medical marijuana

Monday, November 22, 2010

NJ Legislature votes today on medical marijuana resolutions

The New Jersey Senate and Assembly will vote on resolutions SCR 130/ACR 151 today. This is the first step in a process that would re-write the draft regulations for the medical marijuana program.

The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) released the draft rules last month. Patients, advocates and the law’s sponsoring legislators agree that the proposed regulations are far outside of the legislative intent.

Among the new limitations introduced by DHSS were a 10% limit on THC content, limiting cultivation to just three strains and imposing a physician registry.

In a 10/19/10 OPED to the Times of Trenton, CMMNJ executive director Ken Wolski said, “The draft rules proposed by the DHSS for the Medicinal Marijuana Program are so burdensome, unnecessary and outside the scope of the law that they demand extensive revision." http://www.nj.com/opinion/times/oped/index.ssf?/base/news-1/1287467128220520.xml&coll=5

On 11/8/10 the Senate Health and Senior Citizens Committee as well as the Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee forwarded the resolutions for floor voting. Dozens of potentially qualifying New Jersey residents testified for the regulations to be re-written. On 11/15/10 the Senate Judiciary Committee also moved the resolution ahead.

DHSS commissioner Dr. Poonam Alaigh wrote a Guest Column in the Times of Trenton on 11/16/10 to explain her department’s position on the marijuana regulations. Alaigh defended the new limitations without compromise, concluding with: “As a physician, my first and foremost concern is for patients. As the commissioner of the Department of Health and Senior Services, my first and foremost concern is the well-being of all New Jerseyans.” http://www.nj.com/opinion/times/oped/index.ssf?%2Fbase%2Fnews-1%2F1289889942195350.xml&coll=5

CMMNJ spokesperson Chris Goldstein wrote an OPED in the 11/17/10 Newark Star-Ledger that addressed many of Alaigh’s points. “New Jersey passed the most limited compassionate use law in the country. Polling shows 82 percent of residents support it… Enacting the draft regulations from DHSS would effectively crush the holistic model of cannabis therapy here, except underground.”
http://blog.nj.com/njv_guest_blog/2010/11/snuffing_out_medical_marijuana.html

Patients and local medical marijuana experts say they are ready to sit down with Governor Christie and DHSS officials to help get a better understanding of the intent of the compassionate use law.

The Assembly voting session is scheduled to begin at 1:00PM and the Senate at 2:00PM.

Watch and listen live at: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How to comment on NJ Medical Marijuana Program rules

The NJ Department of Health and Senior Services issued the following press release on how to comment on the rules for the Medical Marijuana Program.

November 15, 2010
Poonam Alaigh, MD, MSHCPM, FACP Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

Department of Health and Senior Services Proposes Medicinal Marijuana Rules N.J.A.C. 8:64 Medicinal Marijuana Program Rules

The Medicinal Marijuana Program of the Division of Environmental and Occupational Health Services of the Department of Health and Senior Services (Department) is proposing rules to implement N.J.S.A. 24:6I-1, the “New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act.” The notice of proposal appears in the November 15, 2010, issue of the New Jersey Register.

The Department will hold a public hearing on the proposed new rules between 10:00 A.M. and 12:00 P.M. on December 6, 2010 at the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, First Floor Auditorium, Health and Agriculture Building, 369 South Warren Street (at Market Street), Trenton, New Jersey 08608.

The public has until January 14, 2011, to comment on the proposal. Persons wishing to comment on the proposal must submit their comments in writing by regular mail to Ruth Charbonneau, Director, Office of Legal and Regulatory Affairs, Office of the Commissioner, NJ Department of Health and Senior Services, P O Box 360, Trenton, NJ 08625-0360. Written comments must be postmarked on or before January 14, 2011, which is the close of the 60-day public comment period. The Department will not accept telefacsimiles or electronic mail messages as official comments on the notice of proposal.

Please contact Ken Wolski at CMMNJ if you would like any assistance in offering testimony ohamkrw@aol.com

Monday, November 15, 2010

BREAKING: DHSS posts regulations, public hearings scheduled

The draft regulations for the New Jersey Medical Marijuana Program were officially published in the state Register today. The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has scheduled an event to gather public testimony.

A public hearing on the proposed new rules will be held between 10:00 A.M. and 12:00 P.M. on Monday, December 6, 2010 at the following address:

New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services
First Floor Auditorium
Health and Agriculture Building
369 South Warren Street (at Market Street)
Trenton, New Jersey 08608

Friday, November 12, 2010

ACTION ALERT - Contact NJ legislators to support medical marijuana

National NORML has created a CAPWIZ so that NJ residents can easily contact their legislators. A pre-written letter created by Ken Wolski at CMMNJ is included.

Please take a moment to support realistic regulations for our medical marijuana program:

http://capwiz.com/norml2/issues/alert/?alertid=19491501


Thank you!

MS patient video to Gov Christie

NJ MS Patient Charles Kwiatkowski recorded this video

Thursday, November 11, 2010

NJ Legislators: Make the DHSS rewrite the Medicinal Marijuana Program Rules


















November 11, 2010

Dear New Jersey Legislator:

Please support Resolutions SCR130 and ACR151 introduced by Senator Nicholas Scutari and Assemblyman Reed Gusciora that will compel the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) to rewrite the rules for the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act.

The rules proposed by the DHSS for the Medicinal Marijuana Program are so burdensome, unnecessary and outside the scope of the law that they demand extensive revision.

These rules:
• Endanger the entire program by limiting marijuana cultivation to two facilities;
• Arbitrarily limit the THC content of the marijuana to the detriment of patients;
• Create a burdensome and unnecessary physician registry;
• Delay for two years the addition of qualifying medical conditions for the program; and,
• Micromanage the Alternative Treatment Centers with rules far more restrictive than those required for pharmacies.

Senate and Assembly committees heard testimony and favorably passed Resolutions SCR130 and ACR151 on November 8, 2010. Please vote in favor of these Resolutions when they come before the entire legislature. We are only asking the DHSS to follow the law as written. Patients in New Jersey will be grateful for your support.

Sincerely yours,


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

Resolutions pass supporting medical marijuana patients

Resolutions pass supporting medical marijuana patients

Statement from Ken Woski RN, executive director of CMMNJ:

“The Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey is grateful that Senator Scutari and Assemblyman Gusciora's concurrent Resolutions (SCR130/ACR151) passed favorably out of their respective committees yesterday after a full afternoon of testimony by supporters of safe cannabis access. This shows more than ever that patients and advocates need to be more deeply involved in the development of reasonable regulations to enact the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act.”

The Department of Health and Senor Services (DHSS) issued draft regulations for the medical marijuana program last month. New limitations were introduced including: A physician registry, capping THC content, having just three strains of cannabis and limiting cultivation to just two centers.

Advocates, patients and the sponsoring legislators contend that DHSS officials have crafted rules far outside of the intent of the compassionate use law.

The resolutions now go to the Senate and Assembly for floor votes. If passed, the Christie Administration and DHSS would have 30 days to re-evaluate the draft regulations.

CONTACT: Ken Wolski 609 394 2137 ohamkrw@aol.com or media@cmmnj.org

CMMNJ is the only tax-exempt 501c3 non-profit in New Jersey whose mission is to educate the public about the benefits of medical marijuana.

Monday, November 8, 2010

NJ medical marijuana committee hearings today

The Senate and Assembly will have committee hearings on the draft regulations for the medical marijuana program today.

Senate - 1:00PM Committee Room #1, State House Annex 1st Floor

Assembly - 2:00PM Committee Room #13, state House Annex 4th Floor

Those who cannot attend can listen live at http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/media/live_audio.asp

Friday, November 5, 2010

Senate and Assembly committees to hear medical marijuana resolution

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey CMMNJ
www.cmmnj.org

CONTACT: Ken Wolski 609 394 2137 ohamkrw@aol.com

Senate and Assembly committees to hear medical marijuana resolution

On Monday November 8, 2010 committees in both houses of the New Jersey legislature will hear new resolutions to address overly limiting rules proposed by the Christie Administration.

The Department of Health and Senor Services (DHSS) issued draft regulations for the medical marijuana program last month. Among the new limitations: A physician registry, capping THC content, having just three strains of cannabis and limiting cultivation to just two centers.

Advocates, patients and the sponsoring legislators contend that DHSS officials have missed the intent of the compassionate use law. Senator Nicholas Scutari and Assemblyman Reed Gusciora introduced resolutions SCR130/ ACR151, that may force a re-write of the proposed regulations.

The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee hearing on SCR130 will begin at 1:00PM in Committee Room #1 on the first floor of the State House Annex.

The Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee hearing on ACR151 will begin at 2:00PM in Committee Room #13 on the fourth floor.

Potential patients, family members, advocates, marijuana experts, physicians and potential Alternative Treatment Center Operators are all expected to testify in favor of re-writing the regulations.

CMMNJ executive director Ken Wolski RN detailed advocates’ concerns with the proposed rules in an OPED to the Times of Trenton concluding “The draft rules proposed by the DHSS for the Medicinal Marijuana Program are so burdensome, unnecessary and outside the scope of the law that they demand extensive revision.”

Full OPED- http://www.nj.com/opinion/times/oped/index.ssf?/base/news-1/1287467128220520.xml&coll=5

CONTACT: Ken Wolski 609 394 2137 ohamkrw@aol.com

CMMNJ is the only tax-exempt 501c3 non-profit in New Jersey whose mission is to educate the public about the benefits of medical marijuana.

Assembly Committee to hear resolution Monday 11/8

ACR 151, sponsored by Assemblyman Gusciora, will also be heard on Monday, Nov. 8th. This hearing will take place in the Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee at 2:00 pm in Committee Room 13, 4th Floor of the Statehouse. ACR 151 / SCR 130 determines that the proposed program rules are inconsistent with the legislative intent of the Compassionate Use Act.

A Senate committee will hear the matching resolution the same day.

Patients, families, potential ATC operators, physicians, health care workers and interested parties are asked to attend. Please testify or show support!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Action Alert! Medical marijuana resolution at Senate committee

The NJ Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee will hear a resolution regarding the medical marijuana law on Monday November 8th at 1PM.

The hearing on SCR 130 takes place at the State House Annex, Committee Room 1 in Trenton.

The Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey, NORML-NJ and the Drug Policy Alliance New Jersey are all asking potential patients and others interested in the program to attend the hearing.

SCR 130 would start a process of re-writing draft regulations that seek to enact limitations outside of the law.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

CMMNJ November Meeting Agenda 11/9/10


















Monthly Public Meeting Agenda

Lawrence Twp. Library (Mercer County) Room #3
Tuesday, November 9, 2010; 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

7:00 PM: Call meeting to order. Approve October 2010 minutes. Discuss:

Senator Scutari’s resolution, SCR 130, which will compel the DHSS to completely re-do their draft medical marijuana regulations, will be heard on Monday Nov. 8th at 1:00 PM in the Senate Health Committee, Committee Rm. #1, State House Annex, Trenton. SCR 130 determines that the proposed program rules are inconsistent with the legislative intent of the Compassionate Use Act. CMMNJ will testify in support of the resolution. Patients, advocates and ATC applicants are invited to attend the hearing and testify. Physician registry started. Public comment period is coming soon. Sign the petition protesting these rules at change.org.

Proposal to have ATC applicants form a Union. In unity there is strength!

CMMNJ also supports Sen. Scutari’s other Resolution, which urges the federal government to pass HR 2835, the Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act. This bill, currently in Congress, would stop the federal government from interfering with state medical marijuana programs and also reschedule marijuana so that doctors could prescribe it.

Upcoming CMMNJ events: NJ League of Municipalities conference, Atlantic City 11/15-18/10. Stone Pony, Asbury Park, 4-day music event, 12/26 – 12/29. Web site revamp.

Treasury report: Checking: $6,404; PayPal: $3,073. Tax-deductible donations to CMMNJ, a 501(c)(3) public charity, may be made through Paypal on our web site, or send a check made out to “CMMNJ” to the address below. Get a free t-shirt for a donation above $15—specify size.

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

Ken Wolski, RN, MPA, Executive Director, Coalition for Medical Marijuana—New Jersey, Inc. 219 Woodside Ave., Trenton, NJ 08618 (609) 394-2137 ohamkrw@aol.com www.cmmnj.org


















Monthly Public Meeting Minutes
Tuesday, October 12, 2010; 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Lawrence Twp. Library, Mercer County, NJ

7:00 PM: Call meeting to order. September 2010 minutes approved. Discussion:

Draft DHSS regulations (rules) to implement the Compassionate Use Act published on DHSS web site 10/6/10. CMMNJ calls rules “burdensome, unnecessary amendments” that violate the intent of the law. CMMNJ confronts Gov. at Ewing Town Hall, 10/12. State House Press Conference and protest planned for 10/14 (actually held 10/18.) Sen. Scutari & Asm. Gusciora opposed to rules. DHSS plans meeting for ATC applicants at the Trenton War Memorial on 10/13 at 1 PM. Public comment period will follow publication of rules in NJ Register.

CMMNJ’s support of Sen. Nick Scutari’s Resolution to pass the federal medical marijuana bill (HR 2835) which also reschedules marijuana: A packet of material was sent to elected officials which included: A cover letter, the CMMNJ Op Ed 9/12/10 in The Times of Trenton, & a DVD from ASA, “Medical Cannabis in California.”

Upcoming CMMNJ events: Patient Advisory Group meetings in Jersey City, 10/20; Wayne, 10/21; Collingswood, 10/27; & Ocean City, 10/28. Hydro Comics Tour, Crossroads, Garwood, NJ 10/22, NORML NJ Halloween Party, Pistol Pete’s, Pleasantville, NJ, 10/23; Asbury Lanes, Asbury Park, 10/24; Louis Bay Library, Hawthorne, NJ 10/27; NJ League of Municipalities, Atlantic City 11/15-18/10. Web site revamp. Recent events: Medical Grand Rounds at Trinitas Medical Center, Elizabeth, 9/23; Garden State Elder Care, Elberon, NJ 9/24; Diane Riportella fund raiser 9/25, Atlantic City; Rally with Pres. Obama, Philadelphia, 10/1; 40th Annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival, Madison, WI 10/1-3; Lawrence Twp. Community Day, Bergen Park 10/3.

Treasury report: Checking: Checking: $6,472; PayPal: $3,238.

The next CMMNJ meeting will be 11/9/10 (the second Tuesday of each month.)


The CMMNJ Op Ed in the 10/19/10 edition of The Times of Trenton, NJ is at:

http://www.nj.com/opinion/times/oped/index.ssf?/base/news-1/1287467128220520.xml&coll=5

More coverage of this issue, following CMMNJ's press conference at the Trenton, NJ State House 10/18/10, is at:

http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local-beat/NJ-Medical-marij-105208949.html

http://www.news12.com/articleDetail.jsp?articleId=264133&position=1&news_type=news#fb_jump

Great column from a NJ MD re: the proposed regulations to enact the NJ Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, at:

http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/opinion/commentary/article_2d69f4e8-2cb5-50e2-a37c-64afd5b9f3d3.html

Monday, November 1, 2010

Thoughts on Prop 19 from CMMNJ

The Coalition for Medical Marijuana—New Jersey (CMMNJ) is neutral on Prop 19, the initiative that will be voted on in California tomorrow to legalize marijuana for recreational and religious purposes. CMMNJ neither supports nor opposes Prop 19.

The mission of CMMNJ is to educate the public about the benefits of medical marijuana for patients who are under the care of licensed physicians. Marijuana is a safe, effective and inexpensive therapeutic agent for a wide variety of symptoms, diseases, and medical conditions. It should be available to any patient who can benefit from it. No patient should suffer needlessly, and no patient should ever go to jail for following the advice of a doctor.

Many of the most outspoken advocates for medical marijuana come from the movement for broader reform of drug laws. The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) has an office in Trenton and has been actively lobbying for medical marijuana, along with other drug policy reform issues, for a number of years. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) was perhaps the first organization in America to work for medical marijuana. In 1972, NORML petitioned the federal government to reschedule marijuana so that doctors could prescribe it. NORML’s very popular booklet, “Emerging Clinical Applications for Cannabis and Cannabinoids” is a layman’s guide to the previous decade’s research into the numerous medical benefits of marijuana.

But not all those who support medical marijuana support broader access to it. Numerous patients, their families, health care organizations and medical professionals have also supported medical marijuana in New Jersey and they have no position on broader legalization of marijuana for recreational or religious purposes. It is simply not their issue.

So the voters in California will decide on Prop 19 tomorrow. The outcome is currently too close to call. Regardless of the outcome at the polls, Prop 19 is already a winner. It’s placement on the statewide ballot, its favorable polling numbers for several months, and its endorsement by numerous organizations and editorial boards has increased the dialogue about marijuana and has helped to dispel much of the government propaganda about the drug. It is this “reefer madness” that has held back medical marijuana access throughout the country. Even here in New Jersey, the 14th state to pass a medical marijuana law, nearly one full year ago, no patients are expected to legally receive marijuana for another 8 months or so.

Why are politicians so reluctant to allow even the sick and dying to have access to marijuana when the physicians of these desperately ill patients recommend it? The answer is, “Fear.” There is still fear that perhaps the federal government is right when it exaggerates the dangers and denies the benefits of medical marijuana. But California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana when it passed Prop 215 in 1996. Now, after a 14-year experiment with medical marijuana, California is not looking to go backwards. After the direct experience of hundreds of thousands of patients, their caregivers, their families and the medical professionals who follow these patients and monitor their progress, California is looking to expand access to marijuana with Prop 19, not become more restrictive.

If Prop 19 fails to pass into law tomorrow, it has laid the groundwork for marijuana legalization in California by 2012. Governor Schwarzenegger has said that it is time for a dialogue about marijuana legalization. That dialogue has taken place and the “Ayes” have it, or soon will. The outcome of this dialogue can only speed access to medical marijuana patients throughout the land.

Ken Wolski, RN, Executive Director
Coalition for Medical Marijuana—New Jersey, Inc. (www.cmmnj.org)
November 1, 2010