Monday, December 5, 2011

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.

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