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 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

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

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

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Legislature is right to kill Christie's pot rules

People and Power:

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

New Jersey Closer to Sales of Medical Marijuana

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Group aims to grow medical marijuana

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

Law and Public Safety
Division of Consumer Affairs
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

Law and Public Safety
Division of Consumer Affairs
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

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

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© 2010 All rights reserved.

Marijuana therapy interruption is cruel
Wednesday, November 24, 2010

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. (

©2010 Times of Trenton
© 2010 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.
219 Woodside Ave.
Trenton, NJ 08618

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