Tuesday, July 26, 2011

John Wilson's Appeal Denied

For more info, contact: Ken @ (609) 394-2137

NJ MS Patient’s Appeal Denied; Faces Five Years in Prison

WHO: New Jersey MS patient and medical marijuana user John Wilson
WHAT: Was denied his appeal of a five year prison sentence for medical marijuana use
WHEN: July 26, 2011
WHERE: Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division
WHY: Medical/personal use exemption not allowed

The Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division denied the appeal of a five-year prison sentence for medical marijuana user and multiple sclerosis (MS) patient John Ray Wilson today, July 26, 2011. The court ruled that a medical/personal use exemption to the charge of “manufacturing” marijuana was not allowed.

Wilson originally faced 20 years in prison for growing 17 marijuana plants that he used to treat his MS. Superior Court Judge Robert Reed ruled during a pre-trial hearing in July 2009 that Wilson could not let the jury know that he has MS, or that his use of marijuana was an attempt to treat his disease. This ruling effectively removed Wilson’s only defense for his actions. Wilson was self-employed and had no health insurance. Wilson was convicted by a jury of a second degree charge and was sentenced to five years in prison by Judge Reed.

Dr. Denis Petro, a neurologist and expert witness for the defense, would have testified as to the medical benefits of marijuana for those afflicted with multiple sclerosis, but his testimony was barred by Judge Reed. The National MS Society confirmed in an Expert Opinion Paper in 2008 that standard therapies often provide inadequate relief for the symptoms of MS such as pain and spasticity, and that marijuana helps with these symptoms and could limit disease progression. “To know that a safe and inexpensive herb like marijuana is able to relieve the pain and spasticity of MS and to actually arrest the progression of this incurable disease is a compelling reason to use it therapeutically,” said Ken Wolski, RN, of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey (CMMNJ). “It is an outrage that Wilson will spend many years in the prison system for this, especially since the law in New Jersey now specifically protects MS patients who use medical marijuana.”

The "New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act,” was signed into law in January, 2010 and went into effect in October 2010. The Medicinal Marijuana Program is not yet up and running in the state, though, due to a series of delays. The law will allow patients with an ID card issued by the Health Department to use marijuana when a licensed physician recommends it for a number of medical conditions including multiple sclerosis.

John Wilson’s father, Ray, said, “They want to put a sick person away. It’s not fair. It’s sad.” CMMNJ Board Member Ed Hannaman, Esq. said, “Our system diligently and punctiliously adheres to the fine points of the law while rejecting any sense of compassion, no less actual justice."

CMMNJ, a 501(c)(3) public charity, is a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate the public about the benefits of safe and legal access to medical marijuana. For more info, contact:

Ken Wolski, RN, MPA
Executive Director, Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc. www.cmmnj.org
219 Woodside Ave.
Trenton, NJ 08618
609) 394-2137

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

NJ Gov. Christie Allows Medical Marijuana, Regulations Still Need Work

The Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey (CMMNJ)

Gov. Christie Allows Medical Marijuana, Regulations Still Need Work

Trenton - NJ Governor Chris Christie held a press conference on July 19, 2011 to address the status of the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act. He has decided to reverse his suspension of the program and allow six Alternative Treatment Centers to move ahead with their operations.

After discussing the various intersections or conflicts between state and federal laws Christie said, “I have instructed the Commissioner of Health to move forward as expeditiously as possible to implement the [program].”

VIDEO: http://www.livestream.com/governorchrischristie/video?clipId=pla_a1a6bf2e-1630-4282-bb87-f28f93e72f9a&utm_source=lslibrary&utm_medium=ui-thumb

"We are happy that the governor is moving forward with the medicinal marijuana program," said Ken Wolski, a registered nurse and executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey (CMMNJ). "Patients have suffered too long waiting for this," said Wolski, "In thousands of cases patients in NJ have already died without the improvement in quality of life and relief of suffering that marijuana can bring."

CMMNJ remains focused on a final set of rules for the program that will be workable. "We still have a number of concerns about the regulations put out by the DHSS for this program," Wolski said, "The physician registry is unnecessary and will disqualify numerous patients. Plus the cap on THC level is arbitrary and home delivery is not being permitted. These are all roadblocks to patient access that we hope the Christie Administration will reconsider."

Some of the ATCs have expressed the same concerns. http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2011/03/07/nj-to-hold-hearing-on-medical-marijuana-rules/

Seriously ill New Jersey residents who would qualify under the law expressed surprise and measured hope at the governor's change in rhetoric.

Jay Lassiter lives with HIV and has testified for better regulations in Trenton, "This is a small step in the right direction for New Jersey and I'm glad that Governor Christie has finally discovered a sense of urgency to help New Jersey residents with cancer and AIDS. I look forward to the day when I won't be a criminal just for taking medical cannabis."

Charles Kwiatkowski, a father of three, lives with multiple sclerosis and has been one of the most visible patient advocates in New Jersey. "It's good and bad...all the restrictions," Kwiatkowski said today. "But, I'll believe it when I see it. So far it has been a really long, painful wait."

MEDIA NOTE- Wolski, Lassiter and Kwiatkowski are available to the press. CONTACT: Ken Wolski 609 394 2137 or Chris Goldstein 267 702 3731media@cmmnj.org

Monday, July 11, 2011

CMMNJ July 2011 Agenda & June Minutes

Monthly Public Meeting Agenda
Lawrence Twp. Library (Mercer County) Room #1
Tuesday, July 12, 2011; 7:00 PM -- 9:00 PM

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

There will be no monthly meeting at the Lawrence Library in August 2011.

NJ's Medicinal Marijuana Program is "on hold" according to Governor Christie. NJ AG asks guidance from feds; U.S. Dept. of Justice issues memo from DAG James Cole: http://www.mpp.org/assets/pdfs/library/Cole-memo.pdf

Patients are not at risk from feds but “large scale, privately operated industrial marijuana cultivation centers” are vulnerable to federal prosecution.” No response from Gov. Christie yet.

MPP says Obama “betrayed” medical marijuana patients: http://mail.aol.com/33953-111/aol-1/en-us/Suite.aspx Action Alert from DPA: https://secure2.convio.net/dpa/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=715

"It doesn't change the situation much other than that the governor continues to leave patients hanging out on a limb," (Chris) Goldstein said in the NY Times.

Opinion: “N.J. should allow medical marijuana home cultivation”
6/27: http://www.nj.com/times-opinion/index.ssf/2011/06/opinion_nj_should_allow_medica.html

NSL 7/10/11: Gov. Chris Christie: Stop stalling on NJ's medical marijuana program:

DEA Ignores Evidence, Rejects Medical Marijuana Rescheduling Petition: The link to the Federal Register is: http://americansforsafeaccess.org/downloads/CRC_Petition_DEA_Answer.pdf

Infants Exposed to Cannabinoids During Gestation Have Lowest 2 Year Mortality Rate:

Recent CMMNJ events: Help needed updating CMMNJ's revamped web site (using Joomla!).
Letter written to state police re: cancelled Cheryl Miller Memorial Vigil, 6/7/11 at the State House. Medical Marijuana Expo in Atlantic City 6/25/11. CMMNJ had an information booth and speakers. Southern Shore Music Festival June 18, 2011. CMMNJ Board meeting held 6/19/11 at 6 pm at Peter's house.

Treasury report: Checking: $4106; PayPal: $3079. 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.

Upcoming events: NJ Medical Marijuana Documentary--free screening at the Princeton Public Library on 7/21/11 at 7:00 pm. Hispanic International Television Network http://hitn.org/ plans to do a segment on medical marijuana on 7/26/11. They are looking for someone fuent in Spanish who supports medical marijuana. Contact the producer, Media Marcella, directly at (646) 731.3704.

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.)

CMMNJ Meetings will not be held at the library in August or November of 2011 due to library conflicts 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, June 14, 2011; 7:00 PM -- 9:00 PM

7:00 PM: Call meeting to order. May 2011 minutes approved as changed. Discussion:

NJ's Medicinal Marijuana Program is "on hold" per Governor. U.S. A.G. Eric Holder is working on the issue to “clarify” the state/federal controversy. CMMNJ Board members met with NJ A.G. Paula Dow 5/24/11 accusing the Christie administration of “backsliding” on medical marijuana. Dow defended her actions. NJ AG asks guidance from feds; "inappropriate" per CMMNJ; NSL agrees. Inquirer agrees. Dow's concern is that "Medical marijuana law could put dispensaries, state employees at legal risk, according to U.S. Attorneys in other medical marijuana states. We asked Dow how to stop patients from getting arrested.

CMMNJ met with Asw. Linda Stender who introduced ACR 188, which would invalidate some of the restrictions added to the state’s medical marijuana act, but state budget concerns preclude a vote on ACR 188. CMMNJ is in contact with Eric Lieberman from DHSS who is collecting the public comments for DHSS regs.

State Senator Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden) introduced SCR 120 on 5/26/11, a resolution that "Urges the Governor to support and advocate for passage of federal Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act." The move in Trenton comes just one day after the federal legislation was re-introduced in Congress. Pennsylvania: “Gov. Raymond Shafer Medical Marijuana Act” introduced in the PA House. ASA tells feds, "Cease and desist."

Mary O'Dowd sworn in as state health commissioner; Dr. Tan #2. CMMNJ requests a meeting with these two officials. CMMNJ also faxed a request to meet with Gov. Christie. Still trying to schedule a meeting with Congressman Holt.

Recent CMMNJ events: Help needed updating CMMNJ's revamped web site (using Joomla!)—any volunteers for this? CMMNJ participated in the PhillyNORML march and TLA event on 5/21/11, but lost money (-$160). Cheryl Miller Memorial Vigil, 6/7/11 at the State House in Trenton, NJ, was cancelled by the State Police as no permit was obtained.

Upcoming events: CMMNJ joins Nationwide protest on 40th anniversary of the War on Drugs at the NJ State House 6/17/11 at noon. Medical Marijuana Expo in West Atlantic City 6/25/11. Southern Shore Music Festival June 18. CMMNJ Board meeting 6/19/11 at 6 pm at Peter's house.

Rescheduling update? Discussed with Asw. Stender and Office of Attorney General contact. Francine, our contact at the Division of Consumer Affairs has no real progress to report from our meeting with Mr. Calcagni in Feb., 2011.

Treasury report: Checking: $3806; PayPal: $3262.

Ken Wolski, RN, MPA, Executive Director, Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc.
219 Woodside Ave., Trenton, NJ 08618 (609).394.2137 www.cmmnj.org ; ohamkrw@aol.com

Opinion: N.J. should allow medical marijuana home cultivation
Published: June 27, 2011
Times of Trenton guest opinion column
By Ken Wolski

It has been a year and a half since the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act was enacted into law. Still, not a single ID card has been issued. Not a single legal marijuana plant is growing in the Garden State. Not a single patient has legally experienced the relief that marijuana can bring from his or her debilitating and/or fatal medical conditions. This may be Gov. Christie’s idea of a successful medical marijuana program, but it is a disgrace to the patients and to the rule of law.

Gov. Christie has sought only to delay and deny the implementation of this program since he took office.

First, Gov. Christie asked for a six- to nine-month delay to start implementing the law. Next, he tried to implement a law different than the one that passed by awarding the contract to produce marijuana to a single entity, Rutgers University. Rutgers turned down the offer. The governor then proposed regulations that would award only two entities permission to grow medical marijuana in the state, instead of the six centers that the law calls for. This and other proposed regulations were so outrageous that the entire New Jersey Legislature agreed that they were inconsistent with the intent of the legislation.

The Oct. 13, 2010, public hearing on medical marijuana made a mockery of the democratic process. Speaker after speaker complained about the arbitrary and unscientific limitation on the THC content of marijuana that the state proposed. Dr. Susan Walsh, who conducted the hearing, seemed swayed by this heartfelt and consistent testimony. She said that she would seriously consider dropping the THC limit. When the regulations were published, however, the THC limit remained and Dr. Walsh was gone, instead.

In March, the state Department of Health and Senior Services awarded permits to six
nonprofit centers to grow, process and distribute marijuana to qualified patients. But in April, the governor put the entire program “on hold.” Gov. Christie shut down the Medicinal Marijuana Program, awaiting a reply from the federal government about its opinion of medical marijuana. The governor acts like he just found out that nearly all use of marijuana is against federal law. The state law itself acknowledges that “federal law currently prohibits the use of marijuana ... (but) States are not required to enforce federal law or prosecute people for engaging in activities prohibited by federal law; therefore, compliance with this act does not put the State of New Jersey in violation of federal law.”

The law further states that “New Jersey joins this effort for the health and welfare of its citizens.” Attempts to circumvent or prevent the law are detrimental to the health and welfare of New Jerseyans. Moreover, it is disgraceful and sets a terrible example when a governor refuses to comply with a law with which he disagrees.

Patients continue to suffer needlessly in New Jersey because Gov. Christie refuses to follow the law.

Enough! The delays must stop. The will of the people, as represented by our Legislature, must be followed and the medical marijuana system immediately implemented. Unfortunately, medical marijuana advocates and patients have little hope of this happening during the Christie administration.

A legislative solution that should be considered is restoring the home cultivation provision to the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act. This provision, which was approved by the Senate on Feb. 23, 2009 by a vote of 22–16, would allow qualified patients with an ID card issued by the DHSS to grow up to six marijuana plants.

Fourteen other medical marijuana states allow home cultivation, and there are very few problems associated with it. The worst that can be said about it is that some may be diverted to people who are not sick. But diversion is a problem with all drugs. Diversion is simply not reason enough to keep any drug from a suffering patient.

The best that can be said about home cultivation is that it is a wonderful type of health-care reform. It allows patients to produce their own medicine for pennies. Home cultivation allows patients to titrate, or adjust, the dosage to control their symptoms, taking as much or as little as they need, when they need it. The patients still are under the supervision of their physicians, who manage their qualifying conditions, but they are free of the profit-making motives of the pharmaceutical industry and the health insurance industry.

A wide range of diseases, symptoms and conditions qualify for marijuana therapy in New Jersey: glaucoma, pain, nausea, seizures, neurological conditions, bowel conditions, AIDS, cancer and hospice care. Home cultivation could truly make a significant impact on the health-care dollars spent and the quality of life enjoyed by these patients in New Jersey.

Marijuana is recognized as medicine in New Jersey. Now we actually have to get it to the patients who qualify.

Ken Wolski, R.N., MPA, is executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey Inc. (cmmnj.org).