Monday, July 12, 2010

Plan for medical marijuana at hospitals called "pie in the sky"

The Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey (CMMNJ)

CONTACT: Ken Wolski RN 609 394 2137 or Chris Goldstein

Plan for medical marijuana at hospitals called "pie in the sky"

Last month the New Jersey Legislature delayed medical marijuana access and floated a new concept for the program: Rutgers University could be named as the sole source for all medical cannabis cultivation and the marijuana would be distributed only by hospitals.

The full presentation from the New Jersey Council of Teaching Hospitals (NJCTH) was reported in the Newark Star-Ledger today.

CMMNJ’s Chris Goldstein spoke via phone Friday with NJCTH President J. Richard Goldstein (no relation). He said that NJCTH was invited for what were described as informational discussions in Trenton and not to draft language for the law, calling the medical marijuana proposal “pie in the sky.”

NJCTH’s Goldstein explained, “This is not a full plan. This was just an initial conversation with some key players. The Christie Administration just ran with it.”

Governor Chris Christie’s staff and some legislators have been speaking frequently with the media about the proposals. Patients could access marijuana at hospitals, to be sure, and Rutgers University certainly has the capability of farming medical cannabis. But their Boards of Directors and retained attorneys would be hard pressed to take on the one thing that private businesses already do: Risk.

New Jersey hospitals and Rutgers University have not fully examined their federal liabilities. None of those entities have committed themselves to putting their assets on the line for sick and dying patients. They are not alone; not a single hospital or university in the US currently engages in the production or distribution of state regulated medical marijuana.*

Thirteen states have medical marijuana programs running where private non-profit or for-profit business owners take on the tremendous risk presented by ongoing federal prohibition. Any one of several authorities could seize their properties and assets at any given moment. The owners and employees of medical cannabis businesses also take on the risk of personally losing their freedom through federal arrest.

There do exist groups of private citizens ready to get New Jersey ’s program running.

New Jersey’s medical cannabis patient advocacy groups and others groups interested in offering information about the medical marijuana program have not been afforded the same opportunities to meet with “key players” that Rutgers the NJCTH have enjoyed.

Form letters sent from the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services claimed that state officials were considering no proposals from any group.

The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act currently calls for the initial licensing of six, private Alternative Treatment Centers (ATCs) around the state.

Patients can only gain legal protections by purchasing marijuana from an authorized ATC.

The NJ Department of Health and Senior Services is currently scheduled to begin the regulatory process in October and bring the medical cannabis program online starting in January 2011.

The Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey is intensifying efforts to educate the public and legislators about the ways to best serve the patients who qualify under the law.

Ken Wolski RN, executive director of CMMNJ, said, "The proposal to monopolize New Jersey's medical marijuana program to provide a funding source for training new doctors in the state represents a betrayal of the very patients that the law was designed to protect and serve."

A cannabinoid researcher from Temple University will address the CMMNJ monthly public meeting which will be held on July 13, 2010 at the Lawrence Township (Mercer Co.) Public Library from 7 - 9 pm.

CONTACT: Ken Wolski RN 609 394 2137 or Chris Goldstein

* The University of Mississippi hosts the only DEA licensed marijuana cultivation facility. The single strain of cannabis is distributed to four federal medical marijuana patients. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) also oversees the federal marijuana. It is used for research on a very limited basis.


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  2. meanwhile my dear friend who is suffering through her 2nd chemo treatment at robert wood johnson hospital is paying through the nose for illegal marijuana which she could go to jail for and runs out of mid-month because her s.s. disablity check only goes so far.
    i just came back from a month in san francisco and the amount of donated free and low-cost marijuana available through dispensaries there to 2 friends who live in san francisco and have cancer is more than they even need- they NEVER go without!!!

  3. Christie is just going to have to realize that the easiest and least painful way to solve this problem is to let the patient grow there own and then supply the dispensaries with what they don't need. I highly doubt Rutgers is going to put a portion of there campus at risk by producing a federally illegal substance, what happens when the next president isn't so cool with MMJ and starts to shut down shop? Who is going to fund Rutgers giant grow op? I thought this was all to be non-profit at first. Christie is starting to see those dollar signs. I have a feeling MMJ is never going to be available in NJ, this thing is starting to sound like a joke before its even off the ground. Can't wait to hear what the new big plan is next month.