Thursday, December 29, 2011

CMMNJ Year End Report 2011

2011 has been a very active year for the Coalition for Medical Marijuana—New Jersey

(CMMNJ). Unfortunately, it has also been a very frustrating year of delays for New

Jersey’s Medicinal Marijuana Program (MMP). Marijuana was officially recognized as

medicine in this state when the “New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act” was

signed into law on January 18, 2010. The law went into effect on October 1, 2010. But in

the entire year of 2011, not a single patient has been issued an ID card by the Department

of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). Not a single legal marijuana plant is yet growing in

the state.

Many patients have despaired of ever seeing a meaningful MMP during the administration of

Governor Chris Christie.

On January 11, 2011 the DHSS published slightly revised regulations/rules for the MMP on

its web site. The DHSS gave the public three months to respond to these rules. In

addition, the DHSS published a Request for Applications for Alternative Treatment Centers

(ATCs) with a deadline of February 14, 2011 for applicants.

A Senate Health Committee hearing took place on January 20, 2011 where the proposed rules

from the DHSS were roundly and repeatedly denounced.

The DHSS held a Public Hearing on the MMP rules on March 7, 2011 at the Trenton War

Memorial. CMMNJ held a press conference in the War Memorial foyer immediately following

the hearing expressing our concerns.

The DHSS announced on March 21, 2011 that it had awarded permits to six non-profit groups

to start ATCs to grow, process and distribute medical marijuana to qualified patients. The

commissioner and deputy commissioner of DHSS immediately resigned. The governor, through

his attorney general, then imposed a three month delay in the program seeking guidance or

assurance from the federal government.

The public comment period on the DHSS rules ended on April 23, 2011.

CMMNJ met with Attorney General Paula Dow on May 24, 2011 to express our concerns about the

latest delay in the MMP. CMMNJ told A.G. Dow that she was wrong to seek guidance about

medical marijuana from a federal government that does not recognize medical marijuana. Dow

defended her actions saying she could not put state employees at legal risk. CMMNJ argued

that it was the law of the State of New Jersey that needed defending by her office.

In July the governor announced that he had lifted the latest delay and instructed the DHSS

to move forward “expeditiously” with the MMP. On September 18, 2011 the DHSS announced

that no ATC permits were actually awarded in March—the DHSS only approved applications for

ATCs. An extremely detailed vetting process was then introduced for everyone associated

with the ATCs—perhaps the most rigorous vetting process for any state contractor. No ATC p

ermits will actually be awarded until the vetting process is completed.

Seven months after the public comment period ended, the MMP rules were adopted by the DHSS on November 24, 2011. These rules were adopted without a single change, despite the barrage of comments and outrage by patients, marijuana advocates and potential ATC operators. (Only the Board of Medical Examiners saw fit to change any of its proposed rules.) Even the entire state Legislature voted that the rules were not consistent with the intent of the legislation. But the Legislature faltered on its follow through of this initiative—it failed to pass legislation negating at least a few of the rules that would be most damaging to a successful program.

  • The 10% cap on THC content and the limit of three strains of marijuana will stay in effect.
  • The DHSS-imposed physician registry will also stay. This registry has so far attracted just over 100 New Jersey licensed physicians, or less than 1% of the total number of physicians in the state.
  • The prohibition on home delivery to patients continues.
  • Patients who can benefit from marijuana but who do not yet qualify will still have to wait for two annual reports to be filed at the DHSS before they can petition to have their medical conditions considered to be approved. The approval process itself seems more destined to frustrate than facilitate.

A retired New Jersey State Police Lieutenant, John O'Brien, was chosen to head the Medicinal Marijuana Program on November 29, 2011. According to Mr. O'Brien the DHSS will begin to accept petitions to add qualifying conditions after the second annual report is filed in October 2012.

Meanwhile, patients continue to be arrested and to face, and to start, long prison terms for their use of medical marijuana in New Jersey. Three court cases in New Jersey are pitting medical marijuana patients against the criminal justice system:

  • John Wilson, a multiple sclerosis patient, is appealing his marijuana conviction and unsuccessful appeals court verdict to the New Jersey Supreme Court;
  • Ed Forchion (NJWeedman) is counting on “jury nullification” in his upcoming trial for distribution of a pound of marijuana; and,
  • Colleen Begley’s lawyers are challenging the constitutionality of the state’s marijuana laws in her upcoming trial.

On a positive note, medical marijuana patient David Barnes had a possession case against him dismissed after he repeatedly spoke out about such injustice.

The CMMNJ Board came out in support of Assembly bill A4252 which decriminalizes 15 grams or less of marijuana in New Jersey. The bill was introduced by Assemblymen Gusciora and Carroll and has bipartisan support in the lower house, but no companion bill yet in the senate.

State Senator Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden) introduced SCR 120 on May 26, 2011, a resolution that “Urges the Governor to support and advocate for passage of federal Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act.”

On July 8, 2011 the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) rejected the evidence submitted and denied the “Petition to Initiate Proceedings to Reschedule Marijuana.” In November 2011 the governors of Rhode Island and Washington State submitted a new petition to the DEA to reschedule marijuana.

Local New Jersey communities like Maple Shade and Upper Freehold Township are vigorously opposing ATCs or their production facilities being sited in their communities. The Upper Freehold Township Committee even passed an ordinance designed to ban medical marijuana farming in its community.

Ironically, medical marijuana is enjoying its greatest support in New Jersey. The latest Rutgers-Eagleton poll, published November 30, 2011, shows that 86% of registered voters in New Jersey support making marijuana available for medical purposes. This includes 92 percent of Democrats and 77 percent of Republicans.

Jim Miller began a series of trips to Washington, D.C. to educate lawmakers about the federal government’s blocking FDA-approved clinical trials of marijuana for veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These veterans have an alarmingly high suicide rate. Marijuana shows great promise in treating PTSD while traditional therapy is ineffective at best.

CMMNJ is grateful for the continuing, active support for medical marijuana in New Jersey from countless individuals and organizations.

CMMNJ is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, educational organization, incorporated in the State of New Jersey. In 2011, CMMNJ held eleven public monthly meetings. 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.

CMMNJ’s 2012 recommendations are to support the efforts to:

  • Stop all federal harassment of medical marijuana patients and treatment centers.
  • Begin national clinical studies of marijuana for MS and PTSD.
  • Reschedule marijuana to a more appropriate schedule.
  • Implement the New Jersey 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.

Board Update:

CMMNJ welcomed Diane Fornbacher to our Board of Directors in 2011. On the CMMNJ Board, Diane joins Chris Goldstein, James Bissell, Peter Rosenfeld, Jim Miller, Edward R. Hannaman, Esq., Svetislav Milic, R.Ph., and Ken Wolski, RN.

Alan Marain, Esq. continues as a valued CMMNJ Advisory Board member.

Treasury Report:

In 2011 CMMNJ had income of $2301.44 and expenditures $4400.97. CMMNJ ended the year with $3424.15 in its checking account and $3,072.69 in its Paypal account. The Annual Report was filed with the State of New Jersey, and Form was 990-N was filed with the IRS in April.

2012 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 2012 at the Lawrence Twp. Library (Mercer County) on the second Tuesday of each month from 7 – 9 PM. (Meeting at the library does not imply endorsement of our issue.)

Upcoming events:

Major CMMNJ fundraiser planned for 2/24-25/11. Save the dates!

Seventh National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics, 4/26-28/12, Tucson, AZ. Conference Theme - The Endocananbinoid System: Clinical Implications for Health Care. See:

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!

In 2011, CMMNJ representatives attended or appeared at the following:

PhillyNORML Fundraiser at the Kung Fu Necktie, Philadelphia, PA 1/20/11.

Stone Pony, Asbury Park, 4-day music event with the Bouncing Souls, Feb. 9-12.

ASA Call to Action, 2/19&20/11.

“Update on Use of Medical Marijuana in NJ” NJ State Nurses Assn. Convention, Atlantic City, 3/31. CEUs awarded to over 70 RNs.

Senate Health Committee Public Hearing on Medicinal Marijuana Program rules 1/20/11, State House Annex, Trenton.

Meeting with T. Calcagni, Dir. Of Consumer Affairs, Office of the Attorney General, re: rescheduling marijuana in NJ on 2/15/11, Newark.

CMMNJ lecture on medical marijuana at Ramapo College (RCNJ-NORML) 3/1/11.

WXBN interview 3/3/11.

DHSS Public Hearing on the Medicinal Marijuana Program rules 0n 3/7/11 at the Trenton War Memorial. CMMNJ press conference immediately following the hearing.

Jahan Marcu lecture at Morristown High School 4/12/11.

PhillyNORML March and Event at Theater of the Living Arts (TLA) in Philadelphia 5/21/11.

Global Cannabis March, New York City March & Rally at Foley Square, 5/7/11.

Medical Marijuana Expo, West Atlantic City, 6/25/11.

Dr. Oz Show with CMMNJ supporters, New York City, 3/29/11.

TCNJ Journalism Student Documentary Project 3/18/11.

CMMNJ Board members met with NJ Attorney General Paula Dow and staff, Trenton, 5/24/11.

Cheryl Miller Memorial Vigil, State House, Trenton, 6/7/11. Vigil was interrupted by State Police and CMMNJ later received an apology from the NJSP.

Southern Shore Music Festival, Cumberland Co. Fairgrounds, 6/18/11.

CMMNJ Board Meeting, Collingswood, 6/19/11.

CMMNJ met with Asw. Linda Stender, who introduced ACR 188 which would invalidate some of the restrictive regulations of the Medicinal Marijuana Program.

CMMNJ joined a nationwide protest on the 40th anniversary of the War on Drugs, State House, Trenton, 6/17/11.

NJ Medical Marijuana Documentary, screening and discussion, Princeton Public Library, 7/21/11.

Community Day, Lawrence Twp., NJ, 10/2/11.

NORML NJ Meeting, Joe’s Mill Hill Saloon, Trenton, 10/10/11 & 11/14/11.

Lecture: “Medical Marijuana Update,” Bayada Nurses, Overlook Hospital, Summit, NJ, 10/19/11.

Midwest Harvest Festival, Madison, WI, 10/1-2/11.

Boston Freedom Rally, Boston, Mass., 9/17/11.

Chris Goldstein on NJ Today, 7/8/11.

Ken Wolski on News12 NJ’s “Power and Politics,” 7/22/11.

Louis Santigo debates medical marijuana on Hispanic International TV Network (HITN) 7/26/11.

U.S. Medical Marijuana Chamber of Commerce Press Conference at the State House, Trenton on 8/31/11.

Rally to support medical marijuana patient Ed “NJWeedman” Forchion at Burlington Co. Superior Court, Mt. Holly, 10/18&20/11. (Further rallies delayed until 4/10/12.)

CMMNJ lecture on medical marijuana at Ramapo College (RCNJ-NORML) 11/10/11.

Screening and panel discussion of, “What if Cannabis Cured Cancer?” New York City, 11/10/11.

The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) Community Fest, 10/29/11.

Home Grown Radio Interview, 10/25/11.

2011 CMMNJ publications and videos:

· Open Letter to NJ Legislators: Re: The Medicinal Marijuana Program rules1/3/11.

· The New Jersey Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee held a public hearing on January 20, 2011 on Resolution SCR 130, part of a constitutional process to re-write overly restrictive rules for the Medicinal Marijuana Program. CMMNJ sent out a press release and CMMNJ supporters testified at the hearing: &

· CMMNJ published an extensive critique of the proposed DHSS rules.

· “One year ago today: ‘New Jersey Passes Medical Marijuana Law’” 1/11/11.

· “NJ: Three Medical Marijuana Deadlines in January,” 1/3/11.

· “Opinion: Compromise needed on medical marijuana” (Sen. Scutari) 12/27/10.

· “Charges dropped against NJ medical marijuana patient; Christie’s broken promise,” 2/28/11.

· Testimony to the Maryland Health and Government Operations Committee in support of House Bill 291, “Public Health—Medical Marijuana,” 2/28/11.

· Medicinal Marijuana Program Changes Urged,” 2/25/11.

· “Gov. Christie and Legislature approach deadline,” 2/18/11.

· NJ: State responds to medical marijuana questions,” 2/4/11.

· Legislative Authority over Compassionate Use Regulations,” 2/3/11.

· DHSS mum about Medicinal Marijuana Program Conflicts,” 2/2/11.

· Nurses Fight for Viable Medical Marijuana Program,” Nursing Spectrum, 1/24/11.

· Medical Marijuana Group Responds to DHSS Resignations,” 3/28/11.

· New Jersey Licenses Six Alternative Treatment Centers for Medical Marijuana,” 3/21/11.

· Wasting precious time for medicinal marijuana program,” Times Op Ed, 2/28/11.

· Open Letter to Gov. Christie from Justin Alpert, Esq.,” 2/21/11.

· New Jersey Medical Marijuana ATC Applications Released” 4/13/11, and posted by CMMNJ at:

· NJ AG Dow Wrong to seek federal Advice on Medical Marijuana,” 4/21/11.

· John Wilson’s Appeal Denied,” 7/26/11.

· NJ Gov. Christie Allows Medical Marijuana, Regulations Still Need Work,” 7/21/11.

· N.J. should allow medical marijuana home cultivation,” Times, Op Ed, 6/27/11.

· Medical marijuana and the case of a Jersey MS patient,” Times, Op Ed, 8/24/11.

· Medical marijuana patient John Wilson faces bail hearing today,” 8/24/11.

· NJ MS Patient Takes Medical Marijuana Appeal to State Supreme Court,” 8/16/11.

· MS Society: Support National Clinical Cannabis Trial,” 8/8/11.

· Medical Marijuana Delays Deny relief to Patients,” Times, LTE, 9/22/11.

· Resolution of Support for A4252 which ‘Decriminalizes possession of 15 grams or less of marijuana’ in New Jersey,” 9/30/11.

· Medical Marijuana Patient John Wilson Faces Bail hearing 9/29/11,” 9/28/11.

· DHSS says No ATC permits have been issued yet for Medicinal Marijuana Program,” 9/19/11.

· CMMNJ featured in NJ Monthly article, “Weeding out the pain,” Nov. 2011.

· Corporate cannabis comes to Burlington County,” 10/16/11.

· Medical Marijuana Needed for MS Patients,” LTE, Atlantic Highlands Herald, 10/18/11.

· Protest planned for NJ medical marijuana patient who faces seven years in prison,” 10/17/11.

· NJ Medical Marijuana Patient Faces Seven Years in Prison,” 10/12/11.

· PTSD Marijuana Study for Veterans Stalled by Feds,” 11/29/11.

· NJ DHSS adopts rules for Medicinal Marijuana Program,” 11/24/11.

· ATC Meeting Rescheduled Due to Overcrowding,” 11/18/11.

· ATC Seeks Support in Upper Freehold,” 11/16/11.

· Jim Miller travels to D.C. on behalf of Veterans with PTSD,” 12/12/11.

· Medicinal Marijuana Head Faces Great Obstacles,’ 12/5/11.

· Delay unconscionable on N.J.’s medical marijuana program,” Press of Atlantic City, 11/23/11.

· Upper Freehold’s plan to ban medical marijuana farms relies on flawed federal law,” Times, Op Ed, 12/28/11.

Ken Wolski, RN, MPA
Executive Director, Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey, Inc.
219 Woodside Ave.,
Trenton, NJ 08618

December 29, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

Jim Miller travels to D.C. on behalf of veterans with PTSD

We all know that the battle for medical cannabis is an uphill fight. The playing field is not level. That is for sure. However, every now and then a situation arises where the playing field is not just level, it is downhill all the way. The trick is to recognize that situation when it occurs and then hit it with all that you have. Be willing to commit. To that end I have suspended my efforts to finish a seven year project of writing a book, "Till Death Do We Part", in order to commit to ending the de facto federal blockade of research concerning the value of cannabis as medicine in this country. I fought for medical marijuana rights for my late wife Cheryl out of fear and anger even though I knew the odds were insurmountable. I fought because I had to. This is different. This time I fight because it is a battle that is entirely winnable. I went to Washington DC on Tuesday, December 6, to prove to myself that this is true. I drove home knowing that we hold all of the cards and all we have to do is play them.

The door to my congressman's (Jon Runyan) Longworth office was locked when I arrived at 8:20 AM so I sat on the floor and waited for the business day to begin. I was sweating after the 15 minute walk from Union Station on an unseasonably warm day and wishing that I was more properly attired. I had debated waiting until I could replace my threadbare suit or at least get a jacket and nice button down shirt to wear, but in the end I decided that being better dressed would have to wait until my follow up trips. After about 20 minutes, Runyan arrived with a staffer and I stood up to be dwarfed by the 6'7" 330 lb.former offensive lineman for the Philadelphia Eagles. I told him that I was concerned about the suicide rate among veterans and needed to talk with him or someone on his staff. I had emailed him a month ago and followed up with two visits to talk with his staff at his Mount Laurel NJ office but he didn't seem to make the connection, leaving me to believe that the issue had not even reached him. He told me that he was on his way to an appointment, but that I could wait until Jennifer came in at 9:00 and speak with her.

Having to squeeze in as many office visits as I could in six hours, including all 13 congressmen from NJ, I opted for putting Runyan on hold and going down the hall to the office of Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ). This is where I would begin to find out how earnestly this issue would be received on it's own merit. Congressional staffs like to manage their work load in part by shuffling non-constituents out of the office while saying something like "We have 600,000 constituents who we have promised to represent and our staff is already overloaded, so we regretfully must ask you to work with your own US representative to try and resolve this issue". To counter that, whenever I "cold call" a congressional office I like to bring at least one letter with me from a constituent that starts out saying something like "Dear Congressman (Smith), I would like you to have someone on your staff take the time to talk with Jim Miller when he delivers this letter to your DC office, as he can adequately represent my views on this important issue". First though, I like to see if the issue at hand keeps me from getting the bums rush before hammering them with the letter when necessary. But when someone does try to show me the door, I pull out the letter and say something like "As it happens I have a letter from a constituent whose request IS that you take the time to talk with". I do enjoy watching someone's expression when they first realize that the balance of power has just shifted. In the case of Congressman Holt's staff, the issue of preventing veteran suicide was enough to be taken seriously even from a non-constituent, making the letter I brought from constituent Ken Wolski icing on the cake. I was advised that Patrick will be point man at Congressman Holt's office and to direct future correspondence to him.

I tried to work on varying presentation styles at my first couple of offices, and I arrived at the following as being the nuts and bolts of what proved to get rapt attention, one office after another. I use a staccato cadence on purpose, with each sentence meant to be considered as an individual, indisputable, stand alone fact.

"Suicide has reached epidemic proportions among US military veterans. Six thousand veterans commit suicide each year, far exceeding the national average for non-veterans. Well over 50,000 Viet Nam veterans have killed themselves, which is more than the enemy was able to kill in combat. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a factor in most veteran suicides. The Veterans Administration says that there were 40,000 diagnosed cases of PTSD in the past year among troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, placing a strain on their resources. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the protocol for a clinical trial involving Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans diagnosed with PTSD which has proven resistant to conventional therapies. The study is designed to evaluate the efficacy of marijuana relative to PTSD. The federal government (DEA) has a monopoly on the only supply of marijuana allowed for medical research in this country. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has subsequently denied the researcher's request for the marijuana necessary to proceed with this study, even though the study is privately funded and would cost taxpayers nothing. In July, the DEA denied a petition to reschedule marijuana out of Schedule 1 of the Controlled Dangerous Substances Act, reaffirming it's stance that marijuana has 'no currently accepted medical use in the US'. It took them 9 years to come to that decision. So, what we have here is one branch of the federal government maintaining that marijuana has no medical use while another branch refuses to let a clinical trial proceed that might prove otherwise, thereby preventing acquisition of clinical information that could save veterans' lives".

Yeah...THAT got their attention at every one of the 19 offices I visited that day...some because of their compassion and some looking to protect their ass. Whether or not it warrants their attention is up to them, but I warned them that the clock is now ticking and every week they do nothing another 125 veterans will have killed themselves. I left most offices with contact information for the appropriate person on staff to follow up with.

Finally, at the end of the day I made it back to Runyan's office to finally get to talk with Jennifer. Ironically it was she who was the only one at any of my 19 office visits that day who played the "600,000 constituents" card. Although Jennifer could not use this as a reason to push me out the door, she relied on it heavily in her effort to explain why their staff had done absolutely nothing in the first month that they had this information. I reminded her that 500 US military veterans had committed suicide in that same time period. She countered with the first of several sentences she would annoyingly begin with "What you have to understand is...." in order to help me accept such delays as inevitable and as being beyond Jon Runyan's control. I suggested that although she and freshman congressman Runyan had been on the job less than 11 months and I had been lobbying congress for medical marijuana rights for 20 years, inexperience should not prevent her from knowing what "fast tracking" an issue meant. I guess that I will see what plans Congressman Runyan has to deal with epidemic veteran suicide, if any at all, on Dec. 20, my next planned visit.

Anybody (living in NJ or otherwise) who wants to take part in ending the federal blockade against studying medical marijuana relative to PTSD can contact me directly at I will be glad to advise you as to what needs to be in your letter to get my foot in your congressperson's door and you can fill in the rest, or simply use what I write for you as your own if you think it directly reflects your concerns. If you email the letter directly to me, but address it to your representative as if you were sending it to him (or her), it allows me the element of surprise if they try to rush me out the door with "Are you a constituent Mr.Miller?" I hope to have a productive trip to DC on Dec. 20. If your congressional representative is one of the 431 who are NOT Runyan, Pallone, Holt, or Freylinghuysen...I need a constituent letter from you. It does not matter what your representative's past opinion on medical marijuana has been. I need that letter to jump start the dialogue. If you have any interest at all in righting this wrong, email me at and I will help you publicly put your representative officially on notice and get his clock the rate of 125 veteran suicides per week for every week that he or she does nothing. Ooh...that IS a bad look.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Medicinal Marijuana Head Faces Great Obstacles

The Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey (CMMNJ) notes with interest the appointment by the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) of John H. O'Brien Jr., a 26-year veteran and retired lieutenant of the New Jersey State Police, as director of New Jersey’s Compassionate Use Medicinal Marijuana Program (MMP).

CMMNJ has a deep respect for the superior officers of the New Jersey State Police. We believe they have a clear understanding of the rights of the citizens that they serve and protect. CMMNJ certainly wishes Mr. O’Brien success in his new position, and we hope that he will be true to his word and “bring the program to full implementation” in a timely manner.

Having said that, CMMNJ has serious doubts that the MMP can ever be meaningfully implemented during the Christie administration.

The appointment of a person with a law enforcement background as opposed to a health care background is another example of the fear from the Christie administration that permeates every aspect of this program. This fear is making the program unworkable.

CMMNJ has made a very detailed critique of the rules that this program will operate under. This critique was submitted to DHSS and is available at:

Nonetheless, the DHSS adopted its rules virtually unchanged. The DHSS has:
  • arbitrarily capped the THC content of the marijuana that will be available to patients;
  • started a physician registry that has dissuaded all but 1% of New Jersey licensed physicians from participating;
  • insisted on layer upon layer of security for Alternative Treatment Centers (ATCs) that is far greater than what is required for pharmacies;
  • micromanaged the ATCs and interfered with local zoning issues;
  • made it impossible to add qualifying conditions to the existing law for years to come; and,
  • made it impossible to start the patient registry nearly two full years after the law passed.
The legislature has already declared that these rules are inconsistent with the intent of the legislation. CMMNJ supports the legislative initiative to invalidate a number of these rules.

Additionally, the Board of CMMNJ has endorsed Assembly Bill A4252 which decriminalizes possession of 15 grams or less of marijuana in New Jersey. The bill currently has seventeen sponsors led by Assemblymen Reed Gusciora (D-25) and Michael Patrick Carroll (R-15). CMMNJ has taken this action for the following reasons:
  • nearly two years have passed since the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act was signed into law, yet not a single patient has received legal medical marijuana;
  • patients continue to be arrested and imprisoned in this state for using medical marijuana illegally to treat their medical conditions; and,
  • countless patients who could benefit from medical marijuana are currently disqualified from participating in New Jersey’s MMP and will continue to be disqualified for the foreseeable future.
CMMNJ notes with concern that marijuana experts have been completely excluded from meaningful participation in the development of the MMP. CMMNJ believes this is like trying to build a bridge without using bridge engineers. The new head of the MMP faces tremendous obstacles in bringing this program to full implementation.

Ken Wolski, RN, MPA
Executive Director
Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc.
219 Woodside Ave.
Trenton, NJ 08618

CMMNJ December 2011 Agenda & Nov. Minutes

Monthly Public Meeting Agenda
Lawrence Township Library, Room #1
Tuesday, December 13, 2011; 7:00 PM -- 9:00 PM

7:00 PM: Call meeting to order. Approve November 2011 minutes. Discuss:

NJDHSS adopts rules for Medicinal Marijuana Program 11/24/11; Former N.J. State Police lieutenant picked to run medical marijuana program 11/29/11; Groups in N.J. given OK to sell medical marijuana are having trouble gaining local approval 11/25/11; Upper Freehold committee moves to ban medical marijuana farm 12/2/11; Crop of problems has left N.J. medical marijuana program in budding stage 11/16/11.


ASA Sues Government to Stop Attacks on State Medical Cannabis Programs 11/11; Two governors ask U.S. to reschedule marijuana 11/30/11. Support HR 2306, the 'Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011' ; CMMNJ supports FDA-approved study on marijuana for veterans with PTSD; stalled by NIDA. 11/29/11.

Upcoming events: Major CMMNJ fund raiser planned for Feb. 24 & 25, 2012. Save the dates!

Rally to support Ed (NJWeedman) Forchion at Burlington Co. Court, Mt Holly, April 10, 2012.

Recent events: Ramapo College lecture 11/10; Screening of “What if Cannabis Cured Cancer?” NY, NY, 11/10. NORML NJ meeting at 7 pm on the 2nd Monday of each month, Joe’s, Trenton.

Treasury report: Checking: $3496; PayPal: $3072. Make a tax-deductible donation to CMMNJ, a 501(c)(3) public charity. Use Paypal on our web site, or send a check to "CMMNJ" to the address below. Get a free t-shirt for a donation above $15—specify size.

CMMNJ 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 8, 2011; 7:00 PM -- 9:00 PM

7:00 PM: Call meeting to order. October 2011 minutes approved. Discussion:

NJ's Medicinal Marijuana Program update. DHSS stopped conference calls with ATCs. Four appeals and one lawsuit filed. New delays associated with DHSS background checks of ATCs. Brotherton Reservation (NJ Native Americans) want to start an ATC as a nation/tribal enterprise. Maple Shade Zoning Board rejects state’s first ATC, 10/12. Fear and ignorance prevails. Federal crackdown continues. CMMNJ Board supports A4252 which decriminalizes 15 grams or less of marijuana in NJ. CA Med. Assn. supports legalization.

Discussion of Washington Post article: Marijuana may help PTSD. Why won’t the government find out for sure? CMMNJ to tell elected officials to make this treatment option available to all veterans. Jim to meet with congressmen; Ken to write a letter.

Rally to support medical marijuana patient Ed Forchion (See NJWeedman video) at Burlington Co. Superior Court, Mt Holly, 10/18 & 10/20 at 9 am. Trial (& further rallies) delayed until April 10, 2012. Updates on the Colleen Begley trial and John Wilson’s Supreme Court appeal.

Recent events: “Medical Marijuana Update” for Bayada Nurses, Overlook Hospital, Summit, NJ, 10/19. “NJ Monthly” article, “Weeding Out The Pain,” Nov. 2011. Community Fest TCNJ 10/29; NORML NJ meetings 2nd Monday of each month, 7:00 pm. Home Grown Radio interview, 10/25.

Upcoming events: Major CMMNJ fund raiser planned for Feb. 24 & 25, 2012. Save the dates!

Ramapo College lecture 11/10 1 – 2 pm; Screening of “What if Cannabis Cured Cancer?” 217 E. 42nd St., NY, 11/10 at 6 pm, Q&A with Ken to follow. NORML NJ meeting on 11/14 at 7 pm.

Treasury report: Checking: $3773; PayPal: $3072.

CMMNJ's meetings: The meeting in November 2011 was held at 855 Berkeley Ave., Trenton, NJ 08618 for a $25 fee paid by CMMNJ. Other meetings are held at the Lawrence Twp. Library, 2751 Brunswick Pike. For more info, contact: Ken Wolski, RN, Coalition for Medical Marijuana—New Jersey (609) 394-2137

Resolution of support for A4252, which “Decriminalizes possession of 15 grams or less of marijuana” in New Jersey

Jim Miller, co-founder and President of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana—New Jersey, Inc. (CMMNJ) said:

“CMMNJ supports A4252 which decriminalizes possession of 15 grams of marijuana or less, because it will provide a level of support for thousands of sick, disabled, and dying patients which New Jersey's medical marijuana law will not provide. At least pain patients with an ‘unapproved source of pain’ will not be subjected to criminal proceedings for possession of marijuana. This holds true for patients who (are) approved in other states with medical marijuana laws, but not in their home state of New Jersey.”

Since CMMNJ was founded, Board members of this organization have taken a strictly neutral stance on the issue of broader legalization of marijuana and/or drugs in general. We neither support it nor oppose it. Though many of our supporters favor broader legalization of drugs, many other supporters do not. The mission of CMMNJ has been to educate the public about the medical benefits of marijuana.

At this time the Board of CMMNJ has endorsed Assembly Bill A4252 which decriminalizes possession of 15 grams or less of marijuana in New Jersey. The bill currently has seventeen sponsors led by Assemblymen Reed Gusciora (D-25) and Michael Patrick Carroll (R-15). CMMNJ has taken this action for these reasons:

1.) Nearly two years have passed since the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act was signed into law, yet not a single patient has received legal medical marijuana; and,

2.) Patients continue to be arrested and imprisoned in this state for using medical marijuana illegally to treat their medical conditions; and,

3.) Countless patients who could benefit from medical marijuana are currently disqualified from participating in New Jersey’s Medicinal Marijuana Program (MMP) and will continue to be disqualified for the foreseeable future.

It is for these reasons that CMMNJ supports A4252 which decriminalizes possession of 15 grams or less of marijuana in New Jersey. Marijuana’s therapeutic potential is enormous. Who are the legitimate patients that can benefit from medical marijuana? Clearly, the criminal justice system is not qualified to determine this. Nor have the state legislature or the DHSS shown that they are up to the task. Let the medical community in New Jersey determine who is using marijuana appropriately, as medicine, in the privacy of the doctor-patient relationship.

November 29, 2011

Congressman Rush Holt

Dear Congressman Holt:

It is an outrage that veterans of the U.S. armed forces who are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are denied access to a clinical trial of marijuana after this trial has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Every 80 minutes a US military veteran commits suicide, far exceeding the national average for non-veterans. A few years ago, suicide passed combat fatalities as the leading cause of death among Viet Nam veterans, now numbering over 50,000. PTSD is a factor in most of those deaths.

The FDA approved the protocol from the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies for a clinical trial using combat veterans diagnosed with PTSD which is resistant to conventional therapies. The study is designed to see if medical marijuana can have a beneficial effect on PTSD, as a great deal of evidence suggests. However, the federal government has a monopoly on the only supply of marijuana permitted to be used in medical research. On September 16, 2011, the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) refused to release the marijuana necessary for this FDA-approved clinical trial to proceed, even though the study is privately funded and would cost taxpayers nothing.

Our veterans deserve the best treatment available for their combat-related disabilities. Please help to get this research back on track.

Sincerely yours,

Ken Wolski, RN, MPA, Executive Director
Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc.

Posted: Wednesday, November 23, 2011 12:01 am

Delay unconscionable on N.J.'s medical marijuana program

The New Jersey medical-marijuana plan, passed almost two years ago, has yet to be implemented. The program, administered by the Department of Health and Senior Services, has not registered even a single patient. The proposed regulations haven't been finalized. The DHSS has not provided a published list of the registered physicians. Even the six state-selected alternative treatment centers, which will grow and dispense the medical marijuana, have not been confirmed.

The DHSS will not even explain its inertia. Phone calls and emails go unreturned. It is unclear if the lack of openness and activity is due to avarice, apathy or a directive from Gov. Chris Christie to go slow. The apparent inadequacy of the DHSS may come down to a lack of allocation of resources for the task at hand and/or the department's resistance to seeking qualified assistance from outside sources.

On behalf of chronically ill individuals, some of whom are my patients, I urge as strongly as possible for the Christie administration to implement the law at once. As a physician who has registered with the plan, and the medical caregiver to a number of patients who would qualify and benefit from medicinal cannabis, I am appalled by the way the administration has treated this compassionate legislation.

My typical qualifying patient is a middle-aged multiple sclerosis patient. Many do not have health-insurance coverage. Most tell me that cannabis effectively relieves their neurologic pain and related symptoms.

In my own medical practice, the real villains are: tobacco, which is extremely addictive and has severe long-term health consequences; alcohol, with its damaging consequences to society and a constellation of potential physical effects; and the opiates, both "street" and prescriptive medications, with their highly addictive properties and a withdrawal syndrome so severe that addicts spend hundreds of dollars a day to keep the monkey on their backs.

Cannabis prohibition has proven a monumental failure. The first to benefit by the inevitable end of cannabis prohibition should be the deserving ill. Let's start by finally implementing the N.J. medical-marijuana plan.


Mays Landing

The New York Times

November 6, 2011

Reefer Madness


MARIJUANA is now legal under state law for medical purposes in 16 states and the District of Columbia, encompassing nearly one-third of the American population. More than 1,000 dispensaries provide medical marijuana; many are well regulated by state and local law and pay substantial taxes. But though more than 70 percent of Americans support legalizing medical marijuana, any use of marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

When he ran for president, Barack Obama defended the medical use of marijuana and said that he would not use Justice Department resources to override state laws on the issue. He appeared to make good on this commitment in October 2009, when the Justice Department directed federal prosecutors not to focus their efforts on “individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.”

But over the past year, federal authorities appear to have done everything in their power to undermine state and local regulation of medical marijuana and to create uncertainty, fear and confusion among those in the industry. The president needs to reassert himself to ensure that his original policy is implemented.

The Treasury Department has forced banks to close accounts of medical marijuana businesses operating legally under state law. The Internal Revenue Service has required dispensary owners to pay punitive taxes required of no other businesses. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives recently ruled that state-sanctioned medical marijuana patients can not purchase firearms.

United States attorneys have also sent letters to local officials, coinciding with the adoption or implementation of state medical marijuana regulatory legislation, stressing their authority to prosecute all marijuana offenses. Prosecutors have threatened to seize the property of landlords and put them behind bars for renting to marijuana dispensaries. The United States attorney in San Diego, Laura E. Duffy, has promised to start targeting media outlets that run dispensaries’ ads.

President Obama has not publicly announced a shift in his views on medical marijuana, but his administration seems to be declaring one by fiat. The head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Michele M. Leonhart, a Bush appointee re-nominated by Mr. Obama, has exercised her discretionary authority to retain marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I drug with “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.” And the pronouncements on marijuana, medical and otherwise, from Mr. Obama’s top drug policy adviser, R. Gil Kerlikowske, have been indistinguishable from those of Mr. Bush’s.

None of this makes any sense in terms of public safety, health or fiscal policy. Apart from its value to patients, medical marijuana plays an increasingly important role in local economies, transforming previously illegal jobs into legal ones and creating many new jobs as well, contributing to local tax bases and stimulating new economic activity. Federal crackdowns will not stop the trade in marijuana; they will only push it back underground and hurt those patients least able to navigate illicit markets.

Perhaps not since the civil rights era has law enforcement played such an aggressive role in what is essentially a cultural and political struggle. But this time the federal government is playing the bully, riding roughshod over states’ rights, not to protect vulnerable individuals but to harm them.

At the federal level, there have been few voices of protest. Senior Democrats on Capitol Hill shy away from speaking out. Republicans mostly ignore the extent to which anti-marijuana zealotry threatens core conservative values like states rights, property rights and gun ownership.

Mr. Obama briefly showed a willingness to challenge the drug-war mind-set that permeates the federal drug-control establishment. He needs to show leadership and intervene now, to encourage and defend responsible state and local regulation of medical marijuana.

Ethan Nadelmann is the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.