Friday, January 1, 2010

CMMNJ Year End Report—2009

There has been an explosion of interest and support for medical marijuana in 2009, not only in New Jersey, but in the entire region as well. Pennsylvania and Delaware both introduced medical marijuana bills into their legislatures in 2009. Indeed, New Jersey stands on the verge of passing into law the “New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act.” The current, two-year legislative session ends in mid-January, 2010. It is hoped that the bill will become law by then; otherwise it will be re-introduced in the next legislative session.

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 2009, 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 2000 supporters each month.

Highlights of the year include:

• The New Jersey State Senate approved the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act" (S119) on February 23, 2009 by a vote of 22 – 16 in the State House Senate Chambers in Trenton, NJ. The senate vote was a significant step in the legislative process to protect patients who use marijuana on the recommendation of a physician. The bill would next go to the New Jersey Assembly, the lower house, for votes in the health committee and entire assembly. Governor Jon Corzine has said on several occasions that he supports medical marijuana and that he will sign the bill when it gets to his desk. New Jersey would become the 14th state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana if it passes this legislation into law. S119 was originally introduced by Senator Nicholas Scutari, D-Linden, in January 2005.
• The New Jersey Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee passed the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act 8 - 1 with two abstentions on 6/4/09, forwarding the bill to the full Assembly for a vote. The Assembly Health Committee added amendments and substitutions that made serious changes to the bill that would not serve patients well. CMMNJ’s press release that day urged the legislators to pass a final version of the bill that is not overly restrictive in order to help the greatest number of suffering patients in our state.
• CMMNJ continued its support in 2009 for medical marijuana patients whose suffering was compounded by the criminal justice system. New Jersey multiple sclerosis (MS) patient John Ray Wilson, 36, was told by Superior Court Judge Robert Reed in March during a pre-trial hearing in Somerville, NJ that he faced many years in a New Jersey state prison for growing marijuana plants that he used to treat his MS. Wilson was arrested on August 18, 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 and garnered national attention, especially after John was forbidden by the judge to even mention his medical condition during his trial. CMMNJ held a series of rallies in front of the Somerset County Court House that received wide and favorable attention in the media. CMMNJ also continued its campaign on Wilson’s behalf with an unrelenting series of Op Eds, Letters-to-the-editor, blogs, public debates, and appeals to government officials for a pardon. Eventually, State Senators Nick Scutari and Ray Lesniak joined in denouncing the prosecution of this ill man and asking the governor to pardon him. Several national organizations including DPA and NORML urged their members to join in an e-mail campaign to pardon John Wilson. Wilson’s trial was held in December, 2009 and the jury acquitted him of the most serious charge. However, Wilson still faces significant jail time on two lesser charges when he is sentenced in February, 2010. Supporters are urged to continue to work for a complete pardon for him. The New Jersey State Nurses Association sent a letter asking Gov. Corzine to intervene “in prohibiting Mr. Wilson from being jailed for growing and using marijuana for therapeutic purposes.” CMMNJ hand-delivered a pardon request to the Office of the Governor on 12/30/09.
• CMMNJ also wrote letters in support of Crohns Disease patient Mike Miceli who required two emergency abdominal surgical procedures following his arrest in Jackson, NJ, and chronic pain patient Ronald Felipa who was released by a Bergen County judge after CMMNJ wrote a supporting letter. Burn patient Mike Kessler was sentenced to 4 yrs. Probation, fined, & had his driver’s license revoked despite CMMNJ’s best efforts at leniency in his case.
• CMMNJ has long urged the American Medical Association (AMA) to join its colleagues in support of medical marijuana. CMMNJ was pleased when the AMA voted on 11/10/09 to reverse its long-held position that marijuana be retained as a Schedule I substance with no medical value. The AMA adopted a report drafted by its Council on Science and Public Health (CSAPH) entitled, "Use of Cannabis for Medicinal Purposes," which affirmed the therapeutic benefits of marijuana and called for further research. The CSAPH report concluded that, "short term controlled trials indicate that smoked cannabis reduces neuropathic pain, improves appetite and caloric intake especially in patients with reduced muscle mass, and may relieve spasticity and pain in patients with multiple sclerosis." The report urges that "the Schedule I status of marijuana be reviewed with the goal of facilitating clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines, and alternate delivery methods."
• CMMNJ welcomed the announcement from federal authorities on 10/19/09 recognizing the medical benefits of marijuana and upholding the rights of Americans to safely use marijuana under a doctor’s supervision. For the first time federal authorities have been instructed not to arrest or prosecute medical marijuana patients or caregivers in the 13 states with legalized access. In a major reversal from Bush Administration policy, the Department of Justice issued a memo to prosecutors that stated: “As a general matter, (you) should not focus federal resources in your States on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana. For example, prosecution of individuals with cancer or other serious illnesses who use marijuana as part of a recommended treatment regimen consistent with applicable state law, or those caregivers in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state law who provide such individuals with marijuana, is unlikely to be an efficient use of limited federal resources.” With New Jersey in the final legislative phase for The Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act A804/S119 this memo may serve to alleviate any outstanding concern of federal interference with our proposed state law.
• In October, all three gubernatorial candidates said they support medical marijuana during their recent debate. The Libertarian candidate for governor, who was not invited to the debate, also came out in support of the bill.
• 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 NJ, the Marijuana Policy Project, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and Americans for Safe Access.

CMMNJ hosted a series of free, educational Medical Marijuana Info Seminars in 2009:
• 2/3/09 at the Willingboro Public Library;
• 2/18/09 at the Rutgers/Camden Law School;
• 3/21/09 at the Collingswood Public Library (attended by PA Rep. Mark Cohen who introduced a medical marijuana bill in PA modeled after the NJ bill on April 30, 2009);
• 8/19/09 at the Northeast Regional Library, Cottman Avenue, Philadelphia, PA;
• 8/26/09 at the Levittown Regional Library, New Falls Road, Levittown, PA;
• 10/17 & 11/21/09 at the Collingswood, NJ Public Library.

In 2009, CMMNJ representatives attended or appeared at the following:

• WIBG 1020 AM Talk Radio on 1/20/09;
• WIFI 1460 AM Radio on 2/12/09;
• My9New York’s TV show, “New Jersey Now” on 3/8/09;
• Medical Marijuana Debate with Chris Goldstein on WFMZ Ch. 69 on 4/13/09;
• “NORML 4/20 Freedom Forum” at the Philadelphia Constitution Center on April 20, 2009.
• Skidfest music festival in Newark, Delaware on 4/18/09 and 11/7/09;
• MS Walk in Belmar, NJ on 4/19/09 along with several other MS Walks that day;
• The Global Marijuana March on 5/209 in New Brunswick, NJ with SSDP and in Philadelphia, PA with PhillyNORML.
• The Cheryl Miller Memorial Candlelight Vigil on 6/7/09 at the New Jersey Statehouse;
• A meeting with NORML NJ and the American Lung Association on 3/17/09 in Union, NJ.
• “7 Days Bar” in Union Beach, NJ on 6/6/09.
• “Barry Bush Memorial Vigil” on 7/11/09 at the Liberty Bell, Philadelphia, PA;
• “The Mighty High” music festival on 7/18/09 at Vasa Park in Hackettstown, NJ;
• John Wilson Rally at Somerset Co. Court House on 8/21/09 in Somerville, NJ;
• “Vasagrass” music festival on 8/29/09 at Vasa Park in Hackettstown, NJ;
•’s video “New Jersey considers a medical marijuana law” 9/14/09.
• Boston Freedom Rally, 9/19/09 on Boston Common in Boston Mass.;
• Hamilton Septemberfest, 9/13/09 at Veteran’s Park, Hamilton Twp., NJ;
• Lawrence Community Day, 10/4/09 at Village Park, Lawrence Twp., NJ;
• Ewing Community Fest, 10/10/09 at The College of New Jersey, Ewing Twp., NJ.
• NORML Conference, on 9/24-26/09 in San Francisco, CA;
• Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival, on 10/1-4/09 in Madison, WI;
• New York Harvest Fest on 10/9-12/09 in Utica, New York;
• Medical Marijuana Debate on 10/19/09 at Ocean Co. Community College;
• NORML NJ Open Mtng. on 10/20/09 at the Dog House Saloon, Wash. Twp, NJ;
• League of Municipalities Conference on 11/16-19/09 at the Atlantic City Convention Center;
• Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Legislative Hearing on 12/2/09 in Harrisburg, PA;
• WPHT’s Michael Smerconish Program on 12/8/09;
• Rally at Somerset Co. Court House on 12/14/09 in Somerville, NJ with fund-raiser following.
• John Wilson trial at the Somerset Co. Court House 12/15-17/09 in Somerville, NJ.

Recent publications and videos:
• The Times of Trenton published CMMNJ’s OP-EDs, "Drug laws vs. medical science" 1/15/09, “Marijuana bill restrictions mitigate its usefulness” 6/23/09, and “Medical marijuana: Compassion on trial” on 12/9/09.
• The Nursing Spectrum published the article, “The Great Debate: Medical Marijuana or Not? Will New Jersey legislators pass a law in 2009?” on 1/26/09.
• The Asbury Park Press published Jim Miller’s LTE, “Support warranted for medical marijuana” on 2/9/09. Chris Goldstein published “Trying to understand politics of pain,” in the Burlington Co. Times, 6/25/09. The West Coast Leaf published “NJ may be the next medi-cannabis state” in its Winter 2010 edition. Several other LTE’s were published including, “Medical marijuana relieves suffering” in the Times of Trenton, and “Nurse supports medical marijuana in New Jersey” in the Hunterdon Democrat on 12/2/09. Chuck Kwiatkowski submitted numerous LTEs for publication and appeared in several mainstream media articles and videos this year.
• The Seton Hall Position Paper and a Philadelphia Weekly article support New Jersey’s Compassionate Use Act (S119).
• See the excellent article in Inside New Jersey, “Medical marijuana bill gains momentum in New Jersey.”
• Follow Chris Goldstein’s blogs about medical marijuana in New Jersey at
• Numerous blogs are available at, for example, “Mary’s Story.”
• Facebook and Facebook Friends of CMMNJ are continually updated with the latest information. Format changes were made to the CMMNJ website.
• A series of Public Service Announcements (PSAs) about CMMNJ and its mission and progress were filmed and are available on YouTube.

Treasury Report:

In 2009 CMMNJ had income of $6,985.57 and expenditures of $4,892.90. CMMNJ ended the year with $3,914.10 in its checking account and $750.51 in its Paypal account. Annual Report filed with the State of NJ, and Form 990-N filed with the IRS in April.

CMMNJ’s 2010 recommendations:
These are the same recommendations CMMNJ made for 2009. While there has been progress made on all of these goals, none has been fully accomplished yet:
• Pass the New Jersey bill, S119/A804, into law.
• Stop all federal harassment of medical marijuana patients and treatment centers.
• Reschedule marijuana to a more appropriate schedule.

Patients Out of Time sponsors the premier medical marijuana educational conference in the nation. CMMNJ looks forward to attending the fully accredited Sixth National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics on April 15 - 17, 2010 in Warwick, RI.

CMMNJ welcomed three new members to its Board of Directors in 2009, Chris Goldstein, James Bissell, and Peter Rosenfeld. The new members join Jim Miller, Ken Wolski, RN, Edward R. Hannaman, Esq., and Allan Marain, Esq. 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 2010, same time and place.

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.
219 Woodside Ave., Trenton, NJ 08618

December 31, 2009

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