Friday, February 25, 2011

Medicinal Marijuana Program Changes Urged

February 25, 2011

Dear New Jersey Legislator:

The Coalition for Medical Marijuana—New Jersey (CMMNJ) and the Association of Safe Access Providers-New Jersey (ASAP-NJ) have reviewed the Medicinal Marijuana Program regulations published on Feb. 22, 2011 by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services. Both groups have offered comments and suggestions to put these regulations in conformance with the statutory language and intent.

We believe that the changes we have made to the regulations represent the minimum necessary to have an effective program in accordance with the law. For a copy of the regulations with suggested deletions in brackets and additions underlined, see:

I have drafted the Executive Summary, below, of the changes that we made. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely yours,

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

Executive Summary of proposed changes to NJ DHSS Medicinal Marijuana Program regulations by

1. Eliminate the entire physician registry;

2. Eliminate the arbitrary cannabinoid (THC, etc.) level and strain limits;

3. Significantly change the process to add debilitating medical conditions;
a. reduce the 2-year waiting period;
b. change the make-up of the review panel to include medical marijuana experts and patients;
c. require the panel to review scientific and medical research and evidence;
d. allow the review panel to make the final decision;

4. Eliminate arbitrary and capricious physician requirements;
a. the physician need not and cannot determine that providing the patient with multiple instructions creates an undue risk of diversion or abuse;
b. the physician’s certification need not include a statement on the “lack of scientific consensus for the use of medicinal marijuana”;
c. eliminate the requirement that the licensed physician also possess an active controlled dangerous substances registration;
d. eliminate the requirement that the physician seeking to authorize the medicinal use of marijuana by a minor obtain confirmation from a pediatrician and from a psychiatrist;

5. Stop micromanagement of ATCs;
a. allow ATCs to determine the makeup of their own Medical Advisory Boards;
b. remove the arbitrary ban on volume purchase discounting;
c. increase the allowable ATC inventory of processed on hand medical marijuana to 3 months supply per patient
d. allow more variety in products (at least cannabis butter, oil and tincture);
e. allow home delivery as the law does (but do not make it mandatory);

6. Protect patient privacy;
a. do not require ATCs to collect information on the medical conditions of patients;
b. do not require ATCs to collect patient surveys regarding pain control, etc.;
c. eliminate the requirement that the physician identify the patient’s diagnosis to the DHSS in a manner that compromises the patient’s confidentiality;

7. Make the patient/caregiver ID card process more patient-friendly;
a. reduce the fee for a patient ID card to $100 and for a caregiver ID card to $25;
b. do not make registry with an ATC a precondition of patient registration;
c. make application and renewal fees refundable if application is incomplete;
d. caregiver criminal history record background check need not be done every two years;
e. proof of state residency may include a notarized certification of residency containing the applicant’s address;
f. custodial parent, or guardian of a minor need not also be qualified as a primary caregiver;
g. eliminate the requirement that a person who voluntarily surrenders an ID must include a written notice to that effect;
h. clarify that the DHSS shall revoke a registry identification card for failing to qualify for medical marijuana, not that the individual “Ceases to have his or her debilitating condition.”

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