Tuesday, February 1, 2011

CMMNJ February 8th Meeting Agenda

Monthly Public Meeting Agenda
Lawrence Twp. Library (Mercer County) Room #1 (note room change)
Tuesday, February 8, 2011; 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

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

The Senate Health Committee held a public hearing on the proposed Medicinal Marijuana Program rules on 1/20/11 at the State House. Patients and advocates testified against the rules. The committee voted to pass the testimony on to all the NJ legislators, who now have 20 days to act (by 2/9) to invalidate all or part of the DHSS rules. The Health Committee also rejected the Board of Medical Examiners’ proposed rules.

DHSS published Request for Applications to run Alternative Treatment Centers. Applications must be in by 2/14/11, per their web site, but this conflicts with info posted in the DHSS regs. Attempts to clarify the issue with DHSS have been unsuccessful. For more info, contact Association of Safe Access Providers, NJ (ASAP NJ): marianne.bays@gmail.com

A CMMNJ meeting is scheduled in mid-Feb. with Mr. Thomas Calcagni, Director of Consumer Affairs in the Office of the Attorney General re: rescheduling marijuana in New Jersey.

Upcoming CMMNJ events: Stone Pony, Asbury Park, 4-day music event with the Bouncing Souls will be held Feb. 9 – 12. Volunteers needed. ASA “Call to Action” Feb. 19 & 20, 2011. Web site revamp in progress. $500 down payment submitted to Bill Bly for this. “Update on Use of Medical Marijuana in NJ” at NJ State Nurses Assn. Convention, Atlantic City, 3/31.

Treasury report: Checking: $4,627; PayPal: $3,339. CMMNJ receive its first contribution from the United Way payroll deduction plan this month! 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 ohamkrw@aol.com www.cmmnj.org

Monthly Public Meeting Minutes
Tuesday, January 11, 2011; 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

7:00 PM: Call meeting to order. December 2010 minutes approved. Discussion:

DHSS publishes revised rules for the Medicinal Marijuana Program (MMP). New rules are still objectionable; Senate Health Committee to conduct public hearing on these rules on Thurs., 1/20/11 at the State House Annex at 1:00 PM. Health Committee will also conduct a hearing on the Board of Medical Examiners’ proposed rules. CMMNJ plans State House press conference prior to hearing. Please come to show support and testify—public testimony is welcome. DHSS publishes Request for Applications to run Alternative Treatment Centers. Applications must be in by 2/14/11.

Association of Safe Access Providers, NJ (ASAP NJ), contact marianne.bays@gmail.com

69 NJ MDs have registered with the DHSS; 0.002% of NJ’s 30,000 MDs with current CDS registration. Will the public have access to this list of MDs who’ve registered for the MMP?

New public comment period ends 4/23/11. Submit written comments on the proposed DHSS rules, by regular mail, postmarked by April 23, 2011 to: Devon L. Graf, Director, Office of Legal and Regulatory Compliance, Office of the Commissioner, New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, PO Box 360 Trenton, NJ 08625-0360.

Upcoming CMMNJ events: PhillyNORML Fundraiser at the Kung Fu Necktie, 1/20/11 at 8:30 PM, $10 at the door; Stone Pony, Asbury Park, 4-day music event with the Bouncing Souls, Feb. 9 – 12. Volunteers needed at 6PM each night. CMMNJ web site revamp in progress for $1000--donations needed to offset costs. ASA f/u conf. call re: Stakeholder’s Mtng, or new ASA event? CMMNJ has a meeting scheduled with DCA Director Calcagni re: rescheduling marijuana in NJ.

Treasury report: Checking: $5,385; PayPal: $3,247. 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.

The next CMMNJ meeting will be Tues., 2/8/11, at the Lawrence Library Room #1 from 7PM to 9PM. For info, contact: Ken Wolski, RN, MPA, 219 Woodside Ave., Trenton, NJ 08618 (609) 394-2137 ohamkrw@aol.com www.cmmnj.org info@cmmnj.org

The Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey CMMNJ
“Because no one should suffer needlessly…”

CONTACT: Ken Wolski or Chris Goldstein 609 394 2137 media@cmmnj.org

One year year ago today: 'New Jersey passes medical marijuana law'

On January 11, 2010 the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act was passed by the Legislature and later signed by then-governor Jon Corzine. It marked the 14th US state to create legal access to cannabis for seriously ill residents.
Lawmakers and advocates expected the program to be running by the fall of 2010 but the new governor, Chris Christie, has put up significant hurdles in the regulatory process.

Currently there is no medical marijuana program running in New Jersey. The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) launched a controversial physician registry for doctors to begin recommending cannabis to their patents. DHSS representatives said in a phone call today that 69 doctors in 18 counties had registered so far, but the system to allow the registry of patients has not been brought online.

New Jersey passed a uniquely strict law: Qualifying patients will only be allowed 2 ounces of marijuana per month and there are no provisions for home cultivation.

There is an ongoing debate over the regulations for the Alternative Treatment Centers and the medical cannabis. Governor Christie has proposed a 10% cap on THC content and cultivation limit of three marijuana strains along with many additional new restrictions.

Senator Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) is the lead sponsor of the law and released the following statement on the one-year anniversary of the passage of the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act:

“A year after passage of our medical marijuana law, patients with chronic and terminal illnesses are still awaiting relief. While I believe it is critical to get this program off the ground, implementing it within the guidelines of existing regulations will render it useless.

To that end, I am committed to moving forward with overturning unworkable regulations put forward by the administration to ensure that sick and dying patients get relief. However, I am still hopeful that we will not need to see this process through.

I have pledged to work with the governor on a medical marijuana program that follows the legislative intent of the law, and fulfills our promise to provide compassionate care to patients who need it the most. I remain hopeful that we will reach a true compromise.”

Ken Wolski, a registered nurse and executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey (CMMNJ) commented today:

“It was a great victory last year for patients who are suffering every minute of every day and need safe and legal access to marijuana therapy. Unfortunately, not a single ID card has yet been issued to a qualifying resident and there is no legal medical marijuana even growing at this time. The regulations proposed by the Department of Health and Senior Services to enact this law have done nothing but obstruct its implementation."

The Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey (CMMNJ) is working with patients, caregivers and advocates to ensure that our state government will create a program that brings affordable, medical-grade marijuana to all qualified patients in a timely and secure manner.

The Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey CMMNJ
“Because no one should suffer needlessly…”

Nurses Fight For Viable Medical Marijuana Program

Nursing Spectrum, January 24, 2011
Janice Petrella Lynch, RN, MSN

Marijuana officially was recognized as a medication in the state of New Jersey on Jan. 18, 2010, when former Gov. Jon Corzine signed the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act into law. Two days later, a request to delay implementing it was established by newly inaugurated Gov. Chris Christie.

The law didn’t go into effect until Oct. 1, and soon after, the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services published 97 pages of regulations or rules to enact the law. “Patients, advocates and legislators found the DHSS regulations to be overly restrictive and in some cases, actual amendments to the law,” said Ken Wolski, RN, MPA, executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana — New Jersey.

Both houses of the legislature passed resolutions that gave the DHSS 30 days to rewrite the rules for the medicinal marijuana program in New Jersey.

What’s Next?

Legislative champions and co-sponsors, CMM-NJ members and patients are expecting the DHSS rewrites by mid-January, and if the DHSS does not produce acceptable rules by then, there will be further legislative action, Wolski said.

Jim Miller, president of CMM-NJ, Wolski and members of the coalition have prepared a CMM-NJ “toolkit,” which are 2011 recommendations that include a general medical necessity defense, home cultivation, rescheduling of medical marijuana and explicit workplace protection for patients.

One outspoken opponent of medical marijuana legislation is New Jersey Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini, R-Monmouth, a substance abuse prevention professional. “Legalizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes by adults sends a confusing message to teens about the severity of drug abuse,” Angelini said. “On the one hand, we tell them that drugs, such as marijuana, are harmful and dangerous and then we legalize marijuana claiming that its effects can be soothing and used to relieve pain.”

Another opponent of the legislation is Terrence Farley, former director of the Ocean County Narcotics Strike Force and first assistant to the prosecutor in Ocean County. “After studying thousands of peer-reviewed scientific research studies on marijuana, we have found none that provide data on marijuana and its medicinal effectiveness, risks, benefits, safe dosage, interactions and impact on other pre-existing conditions,” Farley said.

Nursing Support

Wolski brought the medical marijuana resolution to the New Jersey State Nurses Association in 2000, and after some changes, the NJSNA endorsed the resolution at its annual 2002 convention. The ANA supported it in 2003, and in May 2008 the New Jersey National League for Nursing testified in support of medical marijuana at the New Jersey Assembly Health Committee’s informational hearing on the medical marijuana act.

In response to the recent proposed regulations, the NJSNA wrote a letter to the DHSS on Dec. 14, in which the NJSNA raised concern about some specific provisions. “Among other concerns, we questioned whether the recommended THC content was adequate to meet the pain/symptom-reduction needs of patients using medical marijuana and the whether the four [alternative treatment centers] could make the program sufficiently accessible to residents who wish to participate,” said Carolyn Torre, RN, MA, APN, director of regulatory affairs.

“Nurses should know that many national organizations, like the National Association for Glaucoma, the National Association of Multiple Sclerosis, the American Cancer Society, the American Academy of Opthalmology and the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, just to name a few, do not support the use of medical marijuana,” Farley said. “We are talking about an unsafe drug with many harmful and carcinogenic chemicals and numerous side effects.”

Now New Jersey nurses find themselves on awkward ethical ground, Wolski said. With the bill in limbo, nurses can’t legally recommend or advise patients on the use of medical marijuana, something that has been on the legislative table for about six years. “What is a nurse to say to a patient when a physician has already advised that patient, usually ‘off the record,’ to use marijuana?” Wolski said. “Nurses who counsel patients on the use of medical marijuana should be aware of the potentially severe criminal and civil consequences that use of this drug entails.”

Other Issues

The Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, as originally written, allowed for home cultivation, which the 14 other states and Washington, D.C., that have legalized the use of medical marijuana, allow for patients. Although the original bill was finalized, the clause was changed, resulting in the necessity for alternative treatment centers, or ATCs, that will make and distribute marijuana.

The DHSS stipulated that only two centers could produce the marijuana and four could distribute the medicine. The rules further limited the tetrahydrocannibinol content, which could result in subtherapeutic doses in some cases, Wolski said. The DHSS calls for a physician registry, besides the existing patient registry, and for ATCs — entrepreneurial nonprofit organizations — to function like state government agencies, Wolski said.

There’s the concern that marijuana is growing in popularity in the U.S. “The White House ‘drug czar’ has blamed the rise in marijuana use on the publicity surrounding the marijuana legalization,” Angelini said. “Legalization makes our youth believe that marijuana is comparable to medicine, and therefore, is safe to use. No wonder many teens are dismissing our warnings to avoid marijuana and other illicit substances.”

A large number of patients who are in chronic pain do not qualify under the present N.J. law; only those who suffer from cancer or AIDS qualify at this time. As written in the department rules, the DHSS will not review and change the qualifying conditions for two years.

“Although the DHSS says that it does not want to fuel illegal underground activity, the burdensome and overly restrictive rules will actually encourage what it is hoping to avoid,” Wolski said.
Janice Petrella Lynch, RN, MSN, is a regional reporter. Send letters to editorNY@nursingspectrum.com or comment below.

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