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:

• 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,, 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:

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:
• Judge Reed: Don't put John Wilson in prison, by Edward Hannaman, Esq., 1/10
• “Tom's Story,” 2/15/10 by Ken Wolski, RN:
• “NJ: Man with MS who grew medical marijuana faces prison Friday,” by Chris Goldstein 3/16/10
• “NJ MS patient: 5 year sentence for growing marijuana,” by Chris Goldstein, 3/19/10
• “Breaking: Wilson released, NJ Senators call for medical marijuana clemency,” by Chris Goldstein, 4/29/10
• PhillyNORML 2010 Marijuana March Videos:
• “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
• "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:
• "Pot law puts N.J. in federal sights," by Ken Wolski, The Record of Bergen County, July 17, 2010:
• "Squeezing funds from medical pot is wrong" by Ken Wolski, LTE in The Times of Trenton, NJ, July 19, 2010:
• “NJ: Medical Marijuana Stakeholders Meeting planned,” July 29, 2010 Chris Goldstein:
• “New Jersey must protect medical marijuana patients from conflicting state, federal laws” Op Ed by Ken Wolski, RN, Sunday, September 12, 2010:
• “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:
• 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.”:
• “NJ: Limits on THC in medical marijuana unfounded,” by Chris Goldstein, 10/14/10:
• “State's new rules for medical pot far too restrictive,” Op Ed, The Press of Atlantic City, Dr. Jeffrey S. Pollack, 10/14/10.
• “DHSS medicinal marijuana rules require much revision,” Op Ed October 19, 2010 by Ken Wolski, RN:
• “Medical Marijuana,” LTE by Jim Miller 10/22/10:
• “NJ: Controversial doctor registry for marijuana begins,” by Chris Goldstein, 10/26/10:
• New Jersey's Medical Pot Regs Are a Joke 11/4/10 by Chris Goldstein:
• “Snuffing out medical marijuana” Newark Star Ledger Op Ed by Chris Goldstein, 11/17/10:
• “Weak ‘weed’ won't work,” LTE by Chuck Kwiatkowski, The Times of Trenton, 11/1710:
• “Marijuana therapy interruption is cruel” Op Ed, The Times of Trenton, by Ken Wolski, RN, 11/24/10:
• Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act effectively rescheduled marijuana in New Jersey 11/29/10:
• “NJ: Gov. Christie talks medical marijuana on Twitter” 11/29/10:
• Video: Testimony: New Jersey Medical Marijuana Regulations, by Chuck Kwiatkowski, 11/29/10:
• “NJ: Gusciora medical marijuana deal with Christie another bust for patients” by Chris Goldstein, 12/6/10:
• Mike K. PSA Burn Victim (Video):
• “NJ Senate: Support SCR 130--rewrite medical marijuana rules” 12/12/10:
• “STATE VOTES FOR REWRITE OF MED. MARIJUANA POLICIES,” by Ocean City physician Steven Fenichel, 12/17/10. (Video):
• “Poll shows NJ voters continue strong medical marijuana support” by Chris Goldstein, 12/22/10:
• “The Lack of Science Behind New Jersey's Medical Cannabis Laws” by Jahan Marcu, 11/14/10:
• An Open Letter to New Jersey Lawmakers Re: The Medicinal Marijuana Program rules, Ken Wolski, RN, 12/31/10:

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.
219 Woodside Ave., Trenton, NJ 08618

December 31, 2010

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