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.
219 Woodside Ave.
Trenton, NJ 08618

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