Monday, December 31, 2012

Coalition for Medical Marijuana—New Jersey Year End Report 2012




The Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey, Inc. (CMMNJ) is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) educational organization, incorporated in the State of New Jersey.  The mission of CMMNJ is to educate the public and lawmakers about the medical benefits of marijuana.  The goal of CMMNJ is to have safe and legal access to medical marijuana for qualified New Jersey patients.

In 2012, CMMNJ held twelve monthly public meetings at the Lawrence Township Library in Mercer County.  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 over 3000 supporters each month.

Highlights of 2012:

On December 6, 2012 twenty patients each purchased one half ounce of marijuana from the Greenleaf Compassion Center in Montclair, NJ, and so started the state’s Medicinal Marijuana Program (MMP).

New Jersey’s Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act was signed into law in January 2010. However, Governor Chris Christie’s administration imposed a series of delays for nearly three full years before the MMP could start.

By law, patients are entitled to two ounces a month, but Greenleaf CEO Joe Stevens said he initially had to ration his supply of marijuana to accommodate demand.  Just over 300 patients obtained ID cards from the state and Stevens is setting up individual appointments for these patients to obtain their medicine.

Medical marijuana activists said they had mixed feelings about the long-anticipated opening.  “We’re happy some people are getting the medicine they’re entitled to,” said Ken Wolski, executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey, in a published report on phillyburbs.com. “But I don’t think getting medical marijuana out to 300 patients after three years is a success story. I think it’s evidence that there are major problems with the program.”

Another ATC, Compassionate Care Foundation, planned to open in Egg Harbor Township in April after getting local approval.  However, this ATC did not open as expected.  There was no word on why this ATC did not open, or when the other four ATCs would open.

The Christie administration’s Treasury spokesman said on November 27, 2012 that New Jersey’s 7% sales tax will apply to medical marijuana sales.  CMMNJ called decision “ill-advised” as no other medications are taxed in New Jersey.  Nearly every major newspaper editorial board in the state agreed with CMMNJ on this.  Nevertheless, patients who purchased medical marijuana in New Jersey paid a 7% sales tax on top of the purchase price of $120 - $140 for a quarter ounce.

At the beginning of the year, January 18, 2012 was the second anniversary of the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act being signed into law.  CMMNJ issued a Press Release and held a State House press conference.  At the time in New Jersey, there were no ID cards issued, no ATCs were open and patients were still facing long prison terms for using marijuana for their debilitating conditions, often on the advice of licensed physicians.

On February 6, 2012, CMMNJ members testified at an ATC hearing in Camden City Hall.  The Camden Zoning Board rejected an ATC application, 6 – 0, on March 5.  Frank Fulbrook is coordinating a lawsuit against the Zoning Board for inappropriately rejecting the ATC application.

National Medical Marijuana Week was observed from February 12 – 18.  Advocates nationwide made phone calls to the White House and Congress.  Locally, there was a rally at the Trenton Federal Building on February 16, 2012 to protest the refusal by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to reschedule marijuana from its Schedule I status.  As a Schedule I drug, marijuana is considered to have no accepted medical uses in the U.S.

Governors from the states of CO, RI, WA and VT petitioned the federal government to reschedule marijuana.  CMMNJ encouraged NJ to join this effort but so far the governor of NJ has not done so despite the fact that marijuana is recognized as having medical uses in this state.

Also on February 16, 2012, CMMNJ supporters testified at the State House Senate Judiciary Committee on SCR 89, a Resolution to Free John Wilson from state prison.  Wilson was sentenced to five years in prison for growing 17 marijuana plants to treat his multiple sclerosis (MS).  At trial, the judge did not allow Wilson to explain to the jury the reason he grew the marijuana.  SCR 89 was favorably released to the entire Senate for a vote following testimony. Unfortunately, the measure fell one vote short in the Senate on March 15.  In the ensuing media attention, Governor Christie inappropriately questioned Wilson’s diagnosis, despite the fact that prison hospital staff were promptly and appropriately treating Wilson for MS.  In May, Wilson was released from prison to the state’s Intensive Supervision Program (ISP) after 4 months behind bars.  As part of his release agreement, Wilson was forbidden to publicly discuss medical marijuana for the 18 months he is in ISP.

On April 4, 2012 two lawyers filed a lawsuit in Superior Court of New Jersey on behalf of a patient-plaintiff who qualifies for medical marijuana but who has been unable to obtain it, and suffered harm as a result. The plaintiff had no alternative but to treat his symptoms with pharmaceutical drugs prescribed by his physician. These prescription drugs caused severe physical injury to his body. The lawsuit asks the court to remove many of the restrictions in the MMP, in order to provide patients greater ease of access.  The lawsuit also asks the court to appoint CMMNJ monitor of the program. The first hearing on this lawsuit is scheduled in mid-January 2013.

The Department of Health (DOH) requires physicians who want to participate in the state’s MMP to register with the department.  The DOH released a list of registered physicians on April 16, 2012.  Less than 1% of the state’s licensed physicians have joined this registry.

A bill to decriminalize 15 grams of marijuana, A1465, passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee unanimously on May 21, 2012.  The entire Assembly passed A1465 on June 25.  In the New Jersey Senate, Senator Nicholas Scutari introduced S1977, a bill to decriminalize 50 grams of marijuana.  This bill has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.  Governor Christie vowed to veto marijuana decriminalization legislation when it gets to his desk.  Christie said in July, "The war on drugs, while well-intentioned, has been a failure.”
Christie recommended a year of mandatory treatment for first-time, nonviolent drug offenders instead of jail time.  The mandatory treatment would presumably include medical marijuana users who have not been able to gain access to the state’s MMP.  Meanwhile in Newark, Mayor Cory Booker said the war on drugs was ineffective and "represents big overgrown government at its worst…The so called War on Drugs has not succeeded in making significant reductions in drug use, drug arrests or violence." In December, Booker said that he supports medical marijuana in New Jersey and that he wants to "go beyond that," and move toward a complete overhaul of state and federal drug policy.  The CMMNJ Board supports marijuana decriminalization in New Jersey.

Connecticut became the 17th Medical Marijuana State on June 1, 2012.  New Hampshire governor John Lynch vetoed that state’s medical marijuana bill SB 409 on June 21, 2012 after the bill passed both houses of the NH legislature.

CMMNJ Board member Vanessa Waltz met with Congressman Rush Holt on June 5, 2012 regarding ongoing federal obstruction of marijuana research for cancer patients and for veterans with PTSD. CMMNJ co-founder Jim Miller made several trips to Washington, D.C. this year to educate members of Congress about a clinical trial of medical marijuana for veterans with PTSD.  CMMNJ supports the FDA-approved study of marijuana for veterans with PTSD, however this study continues to be obstructed by the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the DEA.

DOH opened the patient registry for the MMP on August 9, 2012, which allowed patients to begin to obtain ID cards from the state.  CMMNJ issued a Press Release and conducted a Press Conference at the State House in Trenton on that date.  Medical marijuana patients and advocates discussed the newly opened patient registration process outside the State House from 11am - 12:00 noon.

Diane Riportella, a tireless and courageous medical marijuana advocate in New Jersey, died from complications of ALS on August 31, 2012 at age 56.

The Washington, D.C. Circuit Court heard oral arguments in Americans for Safe Access v. Drug Enforcement Administration (ASA v. DEA), on October 16, 2012.  This lawsuit is challenging the federal government's classification of marijuana as a dangerous drug with no medical value.  CMMNJ members traveled to D.C. in support of ASA’s lawsuit.

CMMNJ Board member Peter Rosenfeld sent a formal request to DOH to add neuropathic pain as a qualifying condition for marijuana therapy in July.  He never received a reply.

In the retrial of Ed (NJWeedman) Forchion for a marijuana distribution charge, Forchion was found “not guilty” by a Burlington County jury of his peers on October 18, 2012.  Forchion admitted possessing a pound of marijuana that police found in his trunk during a traffic stop on April 1, 2010, in Mount Holly. Forchion has painful tumors in his leg. These tumors are well documented in x-rays and other medical records and are the reason he qualifies for a medical marijuana ID card from California. He would qualify in New Jersey for an ID card as well, but the program was not running at all here in October. CMMNJ demonstrated in support of Forchion during his trial, arguing that a person's diagnosis and treatment plan does not change when he crosses a state line.

Other medical marijuana trials in the Garden State include Eric Hafner’s Middletown, NJ case and Colleen Begley’s case in Mount Holly.
 
The New Jersey State Nurses Association’s Institute for Nursing gave Ken Wolski, RN a “Don Award” for his medical marijuana advocacy, at a gala event in Bally’s Casino in Atlantic City on October 24, 2012. The NJSNA adopted a resolution in support of medical marijuana in 2002.

The national elections in 2012 advanced drug policy reform significantly in the United States.  Colorado and Washington State legalized marijuana use for adults.  Massachusetts became the 18th medical marijuana state.  In the Deep South, Arkansas saw a narrow defeat for medical marijuana, with advocates there pledging to come back even stronger in succeeding elections.

CMMNJ members attended the following public events in 2012:

Rally on the 2nd anniversary of NJ’s Medical Marijuana law, Trenton, NJ, 1/18/12;
Rally at Clarkson S. Fisher Federal Bldg. and U.S. Courthouse, Trenton, NJ, 2/16/12;
Senate Judiciary Hearing on SCR 89 (Free John Wilson), Trenton, NJ, 2/16/12;
Metuchen MS Self-Help Group lecture and discussion, 2/21/12;
Rally to support Eric Hafner, Middletown Court, 3/12/12;
Rally to support Ed (NJWeedman) Forchion at Burlington Co. Court, Mt Holly, 4/10/12;
Ramapo College “Greenfest,” Ramapo, NJ, 4/20/12;
Seventh National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics, Tucson, AZ, 4/26-28/12;
Million Marijuana March, New York, NY, 5/5/12
Million Marijuana March, Philadelphia, PA, 5/19/12;
Assembly Judiciary Committee Hearing, Trenton, NJ, 5/ 21/12;
NJ Assembly vote on A1465, Trenton, NJ, 6/25/12;
Slightly Stoopid Unity Tour, Holmdel, NJ, 8/2/12;
Boston Freedom Rally, The Commons, Boston, Mass., 9/15/12;
NORML Conference, Los Angeles, 10/4-6/12;
Ewing Community Fest, Ewing, NJ, 10/6/12;
Americans for Safe Access 10th Anniversary benefit dinner, Washington, D.C., 10/16/12;
NORML NJ meetings at the Ale House, New Brunswick, NJ, 2nd Monday of each month;
“Smoke Down” Marijuana Prohibition, Independence Mall, Philadelphia, PA 12/15/12.

2012 CMMNJ Publications:

CMMNJ Monthly Agendas and Minutes also contain links to published reports by and about CMMNJ Board members and friends.  For the 2012 CMMNJ Agendas and Minutes, see:

Dec. 2012: http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/2012/12/cmmnj-agenda-dec-2012.html
Nov. 2012:  http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/2012/11/cmmnj-november-2012-meeting-agenda.html
Oct. 2012:  http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/2012/10/cmmnj-october-2012-agenda.html
Sept. 2012:  http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/2012/09/monthly-public-meeting-agenda-lawrence.html
Aug. 2012:  http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/2012/08/cmmnj-august-2012-agenda-july-minutes.html
July 2012:  http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/2012/07/cmmnj-july-2012-agenda-june-minutes.html
June 2012:  http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/2012/06/cmmnj-agenda-for-june-2012.html
May 2012:  http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/2012/04/cmmnj-may-2012-agenda.html
April 2012:  http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/2012/03/cmmnj-april-2012-agenda-march-minutes.html
March 2012:  http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/2012/03/cmmnj-march-13-2012-meeting-agenda.html
Feb. 2012:  http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/2012_02_01_archive.html
Jan. 2012:  http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/2012/01/cmmnj-january-2012-agenda-dec-minutes.html

Vanessa Waltz completed a survey of registered NJ doctors: NJ DOCTORS STRUGGLE WITH COMPLEX MARIJUANA REGULATIONS: The Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey Report: New Jersey Medicinal Marijuana Program Physician/Patient Registry:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/105499771/CMMNJ-Report-on-NJ-Medical-Marijuana-Doctor-Registry

Also, follow CMMNJ on Facebook, Friends of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana-NJ at:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/62462971150/

CMMNJ Board Update:

A CMMNJ Board meeting was held on 3/3/12.  At the close of 2012, the CMMNJ Board consists of the following 10 members: Kenneth R. Wolski, Executive Director, James Miller, Senior Director, Edward R. Hannaman, Esq., Secretary, and Board members James Bissell, Diane Fornbacher, Nick Mellis, Peter Rosenfeld, Vanessa Waltz, Larry Vargo, and Jay Lassiter.  Honorary Board Members are Allan Marain and Frank Fulbrook

Chris Goldstein resigned from the CMMNJ Board on June 8, 2012. We were sorry to lose him.

Jim Miller was hospitalized on and off following an accident requiring multiple surgeries.  Frank Fulbrook was hospitalized following surgery.  Miller and Fulbrook are still recuperating at the end of 2012 and CMMNJ’s best wishes for full and speedy recoveries are with them.

Ed Hannaman and Ken Wolski updated the CMMNJ Bylaws in 2012.

Treasury Report:

A detailed treasury report is forwarded to CMMNJ Board members.  In summary, CMMNJ has a checking account and a PayPal account.  In 2012, CMMNJ had expenditures of $1,860 and income of $2,465.  CMMNJ finished the year with a checking account balance of $3,755 and a PayPal account balance of $3,353.  We are grateful for the generous financial support of all who contributed to our mission to educate the public about the benefits of medical marijuana.

CMMNJ’s 2013 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.

Schedule of CMMNJ 2013 meetings:

The Lawrence Library not available in February and November 2013.
Otherwise, CMMNJ meetings will continue to be held on the second Tuesday of each month from 7 - 9 PM at the Lawrence Twp. Library.

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!

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

December 31, 2012

CMMNJ, a 501(c)(3) public charity, is a non-profit educational organization.

Monday, December 3, 2012

CMMNJ Agenda Dec., 2012




Monthly Public Meeting Agenda 
Lawrence Township Library, Room #3
Tuesday, December 11, 2012; 7:00 PM -- 9:00 PM

7:00 PM:  Call meeting to order.   Approve November 2012 minutes. Discuss:

Colorado & Washington State passed marijuana legalization laws; other states may follow.

NJ’s Medicinal Marijuana Program (MMP) is still not functioning. About 300 ID cards have been purchased by patients but no ATC’s open yet.  (Greenleaf ATC was reportedly awaiting decision on sales tax.)  The Christie administration’s Treasury spokesman said on 11/27/12 that NJ’s 7% sales tax will apply to medical marijuana sales.  CMMNJ calls decision “ill-advised.”

The lawsuit against DOH for failure to implement the state’s MMP is progressing and it asks the court to appoint CMMNJ monitor of the program. Reply from the state is expected this month.

Sen. Scutari’s bill, S1977 (to decriminalize 50 grams of marijuana), is not yet scheduled for a committee hearing.  (NJ Assembly passed A1465--decrim for 15 grams--on 6/25/12.)

Upcoming events: CMMNJ’s 10th anniversary is up-coming in March 2013.  Help plan for this event.  Best wishes for Jim Miller’s return to health, 6 months after his accident.  Harnessing Our Power for Victory – Americans for Safe Access National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference; February 22nd - 25th; Washington, D.C.

Treasury report: December is the season for tax deductible gifts to charities.  CMMNJ, a 501(c)(3) public charity, is an all-volunteer, non-profit educational organization.  Please help us to help you.  Use PayPal. Current finances: Checking account: $3230; PayPal account: $3353.

Schedule of CMMNJ 2013 meetings:  Lawrence Library is not available Feb. & Nov. 2013.  Otherwise, 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.)  More info:

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
CMMNJ, a 501(c)(3) public charity, is a non-profit educational organization.


Monthly Public Meeting Minutes
November 13, 2012

7:00 PM:  Meeting called to order.   October 2012 minutes approved. Discussion:

Election 2012: Massachusetts becomes 18th medical marijuana state. Colorado & Washington state voters pass marijuana legalization laws.

NJ’s Medicinal Marijuana Program (MMP) is still not functioning. About 300 patient ID cards have been issued. Patients are calling around to find out why the delay in opening—the state says it is the ATC’s fault; Greenleaf ATC says it is the state’s fault.  Greenleaf Facebook page changed to secret.  Dir. O’Brien issues “final permit” to Greenleaf ATC; says supply of medical marijuana was not damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

The lawsuit against DOH for failure to implement the state’s MMP is progressing and it asks the court to appoint CMMNJ monitor of the program. A glaucoma patient at the Nov. meeting wants to join the lawsuit.  Since medical marijuana is not available to her, she faces blindness or risky and expensive surgery.

Sen. Scutari’s S1977 (to decriminalize 50 grams of marijuana) is not yet scheduled for a committee hearing.  (NJ Assembly passed A1465--decrim for 15 grams--on 6/25/12.)

Ed (NJWeedman) Forchion’s retrial for distribution charge: “not guilty” by a Burlington County jury of his peers, despite the fact that he admitted possessing a pound of marijuana.  

Recent events: NJ State Nurses Assn. gave Ken Wolski, RN “Don Award” for his medical marijuana advocacy, Atlantic City, 10/24/12.  ASA v. DEA oral arguments in federal court 10/16 & ASA’s 10-year benefit dinner in D.C.  (CMMNJ’s 10th anniversary upcoming in March 2013.)

Treasury report: Checking: $3255; PayPal: $3353.

Schedule of CMMNJ 2013 meetings:  Lawrence Library not available Feb. & Nov. 2013.  Otherwise, CMMNJ meetings will continue to be held on the second Tuesday of each month from 7 - 9 PM at the Lawrence Twp. Library.

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
CMMNJ, a 501(c)(3) public charity, is a non-profit educational organization.



Recent Media Coverage and Blogs:

Medical marijuana holdup: Sales tax question stalls N.J. legalization
http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2012/11/medical_marijuana_holdup_sales.html

Medical marijuana in New Jersey offers gains, setbacks for Hunterdon and Warren county residents
http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/breaking-news/index.ssf/2012/11/new_jerseys_medical_marijuana.html

Dr. Jeffrey S. Pollack / New federal marijuana policy needed
http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/opinion/commentary/dr-jeffrey-s-pollack-new-federal-marijuana-policy-needed/article_131323d4-81c8-5d21-bd7d-6c74f3fe91e5.html

N.J. to tax medical marijuana, Christie administration says
http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2012/11/nj_to_tax_medical_marijuana_ch.html

My Uncle Says He Doesn’t Believe in Medical Marijuana
http://www.tokeofthetown.com/2012/11/my_uncle_says_he_doesnt_believe_in_medical_marijua.php

Medical Marijuana Is Now Law – Why the Delay?
http://princetoninfo.com/index.php?option=com_us1more&Itemid=6&key=11-28-12marijuana&more=1&action=comment

State: Medical Marijuana Will Be Subject To New Jersey Sales Tax
http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2012/11/27/state-medical-marijuana-will-be-subject-to-new-jersey-sales-tax/

N. J. patients hopeful the last hurdle has been cleared for medical marijuana
http://articles.philly.com/2012-11-29/news/35412861_1_greenleaf-compassion-center-medical-marijuana-marijuana-sales

NJ says 1st medical pot dispensary has cleared all regulatory hurdles, but it's still not open
http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/bdcb4cd1886f4979b8305e22255bd135/NJ--Medical-Marijuana-NJ

Don't tax medical marijuana
http://blog.nj.com/njv_editorial_page/2012/11/dont_tax_medical_marijuana.html

Is it fair to tax medical marijuana? N.J. state law exempts prescription and over-the-counter drugs
http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/nj/Is_a_tax_on_medical_marijuana_fair_Philly_420.html

Taxing medical marijuana ill-advised
http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/2012/11/taxing-medical-marijuana-ill-advised.html

Editorial: Getting down to grass tax -- Exempt medical marijuana from N.J. sales tax
http://www.nj.com/times-opinion/index.ssf/2012/12/editorial_getting_down_to_gras.html

Medical marijuana law sponsors surprised Christie wants to impose sales tax on it
http://www.philly.com/philly/news/new_jersey/20121203_Medical_marijuana_law_sponsors_surprised_Christie_wants_to_impose_sales_tax_on_it.html


Extra:

Harnessing Our Power for Victory – Americans for Safe Access National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference, taking place February 22nd - 25th at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C.
http://www.americansforsafeaccess.org/NationalConference2013

NY being pressured to legalize marijuana for medical uses
http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/ny_rx_pot_pushers_yes_we_cannabis_vO25Qhi3BwEQslmfucXTnN

Marijuana for Symptoms of PTSD in Veterans of War
http://www.maps.org/research/mmj/marijuana_for_ptsd_study/

Spain Study Confirms Hemp Oil Cures Cancer without Side Effects
http://worldtruth.tv/spain-study-confirms-hemp-oil-cures-cancer-without-side-effects/

Mass. Medical Society Has New Policy on Medical Marijuana
http://www.wggb.com/2012/12/02/mass-medical-society-has-new-policy-on-medical-marijuana/

Marijuana And Cancer: Scientists Find Cannabis Compound Stops Metastasis In Aggressive Cancers
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/19/marijuana-and-cancer_n_1898208.html

New England Lawmakers Preparing State Marijuana Legalization Push
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/14/new-england-marijuana-legalization_n_2130925.html

Friday, November 30, 2012

Taxing medical marijuana ill-advised






The Christie administration’s decision to tax the sale of medical marijuana is ill-advised. Neither the law nor the regulations to enact the law call for such a tax.  In fact, the New Jersey Division of Taxation’s Technical Bulletin issued 2/16/10 clearly notes that, “Effective October 1, 2005, all drugs for human use, including prescribed drugs and over-the-counter drugs are exempt from sales and use tax.”  http://www.state.nj.us/treasury/taxation/pdf/pubs/tb/tb63.pdf

Medical marijuana in New Jersey’s strictly regulated Medicinal Marijuana Program is most like a prescription medicine.  Physicians will write their recommendation for a specific and limited amount of marijuana; patients will take that recommendation to a licensed Alternative Treatment Center (ATC); the ATC will dispense that specific amount of marijuana to the patient; the patient may only return to the ATC at specified intervals for refills; and, there are penalties for misuse of the marijuana that the patient receives.

Prescription drugs are not subject to sales tax in New Jersey and neither should medical marijuana be subject to this tax.

It has been said that the original sponsor of the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, Senator Nicholas Scutari, “had in mind” to tax medical marijuana, though he never included that language in the bill.  Well, we know that Sen. Scutari had a lot of things in mind when he introduced that legislation—things that would actually help patients, and guarantee implementation of the bill.  Some of the things Sen. Scutari wanted that were included in the bill that passed the entire state Senate by a vote of 22 - 16 on February 23, 2009 were:
All chronic pain patients would qualify, not just cancer and AIDS patients;
Out-of-state ID cards would be recognized and respected;
Patients could grow 6 plants each to guarantee access to the drug.

None of these things were included in the final version of the law, which passed about a year later in January 2010.  Instead only restrictions and impediments were placed in the path of patient access.  These were followed by burdensome and unnecessary regulations that have kept this safe and effective medicine from desperately ill patients whose suffering could be eased by it.

I worked for the State of New Jersey for over 25 years.  I started working for the Department of State for two summers while I was still in high school in the 1960’s.  In the 1970’s I worked for the Department of Human Services for four years.  Between 1984 and 2006 I worked for the Department of Corrections.  If I learned nothing else in all that time with the state, it was, “If it wasn’t documented, it wasn’t done.”

Nowhere is there documentation that the state expected to collect taxes from the sale of medical marijuana.  It is not included in the original Compassionate Use Act that was introduced in 2005, and it is not included in the final version of the Act that passed into law in January 2010.  Nor is there any mention of the collection of sales tax in the 100 plus pages of regulations that were adopted by the Department of Health to enact this law.  Nor is there anything about sales taxes in the regulations adopted by the Board of Medical Examiners.

This is another example of an arbitrary and capricious burden that is being put on the patients who qualify for this program.  It takes its place with other rules from the Christie administration —like the physician registry, the 10% cap on THC, and the micromanagement of ATC’s--that guarantee limited patient access, sub-standard marijuana, and high cost to the patient.  If, that is, the program ever gets working in the first place.

Governor Christie has repeatedly exceeded his constitutional powers in interfering with a law that he does not agree with. Adding a sales tax on medical marijuana is another example of this.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Glaucoma patient faces surgery due to state's failure to implement its medical marijuana law




Susan Sturner is a card-carrying patient in the Medicinal Marijuana Program in New Jersey.  She is very angry.  She has paid the required fees and jumped through all the hoops the Department of Health has established in order to register in the program.  But she still can’t get her medicine. 

Greenleaf Alternative Treatment Center in Montclair, NJ has been, so far, the only medical marijuana dispensary to get a final permit from the state.  But Greenleaf has yet to open its doors to patients.  Susan called around.  She said the Department of Health points to Greenleaf as responsible for the delay; Greenleaf points to the Department of Health.

Meanwhile, Susan still can’t get her medicine. 

Susan is a glaucoma patient and she faces blindness.  The pressure in her eyes--her intraocular pressure--is dangerously high.  Her ophthalmologist has recommended a major surgical procedure--putting tubes in her eyes--to control this pressure.  Any surgical procedure entails significant risk.  A far less risky option—and far less costly--is marijuana therapy.  Marijuana has been shown to reduce intraocular pressure in glaucoma patients who, like Susan, do not respond to traditional pharmaceutical treatment.

In fact, the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana law specifically allows glaucoma patients to qualify for marijuana therapy.  But Susan still can’t get her medicine, despite the fact that this law passed nearly three years ago.

Susan is ready and willing to sue Governor Christie and anyone else in state government who is preventing her from obtaining medicine to which she is legally entitled.  In fact, her ID card is over a month old, which means she has been paying the state for a month for nothing.

Susan came to the November meeting of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana—New Jersey, which was held as usual at the Lawrence Township Library in Mercer County. 

She discussed going out-of-state.  Sure, she could travel to Rhode Island and use her New Jersey ID card to legally purchase medical marijuana there.  But if she brings the marijuana back to her New Jersey home, she faces arrest, imprisonment, and a host of civil penalties. 

Susan said that we should send a sympathy card to the governor from all the people who have died during the failure of the Christie administration to implement this law.  We discussed her idea at the meeting but decided that it would be impossible for two reasons: first, we could never figure out all their names, and second, because the list of cards would be in the tens of thousands and we could not afford to send that many cards.

Tens of thousands of New Jersey hospice patients die every year who have not gotten the medical marijuana they are entitled to by law.  Add to these the cancer patients, the patients with AIDS, the seizure patients, the patients with neurological conditions and the patients with abdominal conditions, and the number of patients who die suffering needlessly every year is staggering.

And remember, New Jersey’s list of medical conditions that qualify for marijuana therapy is the most restrictive in the nation.  If the full range of marijuana’s therapeutic potential were recognized and permitted, hundreds of thousands of patients here could be helped in a safe and cost-effective way.  As it is, hundreds of thousands of New Jersey patients, like Susan Sturner, continue to be harmed every day by the state’s failure to fully implement this law.  

Friday, November 9, 2012

CMMNJ November 2012 Meeting Agenda



Monthly Public Meeting Agenda
Lawrence Township Library, Room #2

Tuesday, November 13, 2012; 7:00 PM -- 9:00 PM

7:00 PM:  Call meeting to order.   Approve October 2012 minutes.  Discuss:

Election 2012: Massachusetts becomes 18th medical marijuana state.  Colorado & Washington state voters pass marijuana legalization laws.  (Sky has yet to fall.)

NJ’s Medicinal Marijuana Program (MMP) is still not functioning—not a single patient has yet gotten any.  About 300 patient ID cards have been issued.  Dir. O’Brien issues final permit to Greenleaf ATC; says supply of medical marijuana was not damaged by Hurricane Sandy.  The lawsuit against DOH for failure to implement the state’s MMP is progressing and it asks the court to appoint CMMNJ monitor of the program.

Sen. Scutari’s S1977 (to decriminalize 50 grams of marijuana) is not yet scheduled for a committee hearing.  (NJ Assembly passed A1465--decrim for 15 grams--on 6/25/12.)

Ed (NJWeedman) Forchion’s retrial for distribution charge: “not guilty” by a Burlington County jury of his peers, despite the fact that he admitted possessing a pound of marijuana.  

Recent events: NJ State Nurses Assn. gave Ken Wolski, RN “Don Award” for his medical marijuana advocacy, Atlantic City, 10/24/12.  ASA v. DEA oral arguments in federal court 10/16 & ASA’s 10-year benefit dinner in D.C.  (CMMNJ’s 10th anniversary upcoming in March 2013.)

Treasury report: Checking: $3255; PayPal: $3353.

Schedule of CMMNJ 2013 meetings:  Lawrence Library not available Feb. & Nov. 2013. 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 ohamkrw@aol.com www.cmmnj.org
CMMNJ, a 501(c)(3) public charity, is a non-profit educational organization.




Monthly Public Meeting Minutes
Lawrence Library
October 9, 2012
 

7:00 PM:  Meeting called to order.   September 2012 minutes approved.  Discussion:

So far, 239 patients have registered for ID cards with DOH; in addition to other fees, patients must pay $65 for background checks for caregivers.  Problems with doctors continue. 

ATC update: More delays; promised September opening of Montclair ATC did not occur—final inspection of facility several weeks away.  No ATCs open yet. The lawsuit against DOH for failure to implement the state’s MMP is progressing.  Suggestions include demonstrations at DOH with tombstones of dead NJ patients.

Adding qualifying conditions to NJ’s medical marijuana law—Board members’ efforts.

NJ Senator Nick Scutari introduced S1977 to decriminalize 50 grams of marijuana.  Fall committee hearing upcoming?  (NJ Assembly passed A1465--decrim for 15 grams--on 6/25/12.) 

Ed (NJWeedman) Forchion: Retrial for hung jury on distribution charge starts 10/16/12 at 8am.

Upcoming events: NJ State Nurses Assn. “Don Award” to Ken Wolski, RN for medical marijuana advocacy in Atlantic City on 10/24/12. NORML NJ meeting October 15th & November 12th at 7pm at the Ale House, New Brunswick, NJ.  Ewing Community Fest 10/6/12, thanks to Larry & Ed.  Lawrence Community Day 10/7/12 canceled due to weather.  ASA v. DEA oral arguments in federal court 10/16 followed by ASA’s 10th Anniversary benefit dinner in D.C.  NORML Conference, Los Angeles, 10/4-6/12, Ken was a speaker.  CMMNJ’s 10th anniversary upcoming
in March 2013.

Treasury report: Checking: $3163; PayPal: $3353.

CMMNJ meetings are the second Tuesday of each month from 7 - 9 PM at the Lawrence Library 
(Meeting at the library does not imply their endorsement of our issue.)  For more info: 

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
CMMNJ, a 501(c)(3) public charity, is a non-profit educational organization.

Recent Media Coverage and Blogs:

‘The Fight Over Medical Marijuana’
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/08/opinion/the-fight-over-medical-marijuana.html

New Jersey medical marijuana supply safe after Superstorm Sandy
http://www.freedomisgreen.com/new-jersey-medical-marijuana-supply-safe-after-superstorm-sandy/

Q&A with New Jersey Medicinal Marijuana Program Director
http://www.freedomisgreen.com/qa-with-new-jersey-medicinal-marijuana-program-director/

NJ medical marijuana: Tough road for patients to first ATC
http://www.freedomisgreen.com/nj-medical-marijuana-tough-road-for-patients-to-first-atc/

On medical marijuana, state laws matter
http://blog.nj.com/ledgerletters/2012/10/on_medical_marijuana_state_law.html

N.J. issues first medical marijuana license
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57532753/n.j-issues-first-medical-marijuana-license/

Department of Health Issues Permit to Operate to Greenleaf Compassion Center
http://www.nj.gov/health/medicalmarijuana/documents/greenleaf_comp_ctr.pdf

Empowering Women Dual-Project
http://www.indiegogo.com/nelsonproject

Medical marijuana center in Montclair to open before new year
http://www.newjerseynewsroom.com/healthquest/medical-marijuana-center-in-montclair-to-open-before-new-year

Montclair Pot Dispensary: New Jersey's First Marijuana Storefront Lands Pot License
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/24/montclair-pot-dispensary-_n_2011678.html

WHERE WE STAND: Stop the stalling on medical marijuana
Nearly three years past the law's passage, all six dispensaries should be approved.
http://www.courierpostonline.com/article/20121017/OPINION03/310170002/Stop-stalling-medical-marijuana

PTSD Patient Challenges New Jersey Marijuana Laws
http://www.theweedblog.com/ptsd-patient-challenges-new-jersey-marijuana-laws/

Extra:

Colorado, Washington first states to legalize recreational pot
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/07/us-usa-marijuana-legalization-idUSBRE8A602D20121107

‘Weedman’ acquitted after using medical marijuana argument as his defense
http://www.channel6newsonline.com/2012/10/weedman-acquitted-after-using-medical-marijuana-argument-as-his-defense/

Jury Nullification Keeps NJ Weedman Out of Jail; DEA Comes Calling
http://reason.com/blog/2012/10/24/jury-nullification-keeps-nj-weedman-out

Bridging the Knowledge Gap:  Nurses in Support of Medical Cannabis
http://www.medicalcannabisart.com/MedicalCannabisNews/TY%20ACNA%202012.pdf

Opinion: Marijuana ballot initiatives in other states could provide N.J. with direction
http://www.nj.com/times-opinion/index.ssf/2012/10/opinion_marijuana_ballot_initi.html

Obama, What About "Free and Open Scientific Inquiry" for Medical Marijuana?
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-john-schwarz/medical-marijuana_b_2050358.html

Should Grandma Smoke Pot? Final Cut - Legalize Marijuana
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=juVwqdNJlpU&feature=youtu.be

Medical Marijuana: No longer a pipe dream
http://watch.njtvonline.org/video/2287878729

Department of Health Issues Permit to Operate to Greenleaf Compassion Center
(10/16/12)

Greenleaf Compassion Center was issued a permit today by the Department of Health to operate as an Alternative Treatment Center (ATCs) and dispense medicinal marijuana. The permit was issued after a final Department inspection of its Montclair facility. Montclair officials also recently granted a certificate of occupancy to Greenleaf, clearing the way for the Department to grant its permit.

"This permit marks a significant step forward in the implementation of New Jersey's Medicinal Marijuana Program and allows Greenleaf Compassion Center to begin dispensing medicinal marijuana to qualified patients," said New Jersey Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd. "The Department is working with all ATCs to ensure the program serves patients safely and securely."

Patients and caregivers will receive identification cards this week from the Medicinal Marijuana Program (MMP). Greenleaf will contact patients to schedule an appointment in the order in which patients registered. Patients and caregivers must bring their MMP identification card with them to the appointment.

Approximately 320 patients have either registered with the program or are in the process of completing registration, while more than 175 physicians have registered.

"This is a new product. Patients may want to make a limited purchase initially until they know which of the three available varieties best meets their needs," Commissioner O'Dowd said. ATCs can also provide guidance to patients on ways to use the product without the harmful effects of smoking.

The other five Alternative Treatment Centers are in various stages of finalizing locations or background examinations of the principals of their organizations.

The Department opened the patient registry in August. The registration process is available on the Department's Medicinal Marijuana webpage, which includes a checklist on how to register, answers to frequently asked questions and an option to submit questions via the website to customer services representatives.

Patients interested in registering should ask their doctor if he or she has signed up or would be willing to participate. If their physician is not interested-patients can check on the Department's Medicinal Marijuana webpage for physicians who have registered. The webpage provides a physician listing by county.

A Customer Service Unit is available to assist patients, caregivers and physicians in the registration process. The customer service line, (609) 292-0424, is open from 8 am to 5pm Monday through Friday.

For answers to frequently asked questions, please visit
http://www.state.nj.us/health/medicalmarijuana/faqs.shtml

http://www.nj.gov/health/medicalmarijuana/documents/greenleaf_comp_ctr.pdf

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Q&A with NJ Medicinal Marijuana Program Director


NJ Medicinal Marijuana Program (MMP) Director John O’Brien responded to questions from freedomisgreen.comand clarified some important details about access. Last week the New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) announced that Greenleaf Compassion Center in Montclair is now the only Alternative Treatment Center fully permitted to dispense cannabis in the Garden State. Registered patients also started to receive ID cards.
Medicinal Marijuana Program Questions
1-[FiG] - How do registered patients and caregivers obtain their ID cards?[re:physical cards]
  • [O'Brien] - DOH originally engaged the Alternative Treatment Centers with the prospect of being the centralized distribution point for ID card delivery.  At that time, the ATCs showed interest in being distributors.  However during a recent progress meeting, Greenleaf representatives expressed concerns regarding security at their Montclair dispensary related to ID card distribution.  The department developed an alternative approach using the mail.  The identification cards are being mailed to the patient and caregiver residences through the mail.  All caregivers and patients who had previously registered will have their cards dated effective Oct. 15—the date Greenleaf was issued its permit. The identification cards are good for two years.
2- [FiG] -How many patients and caregivers have completed the registration process to receive an ID card?
  • [O'Brien] -As of close of business on Friday 10/19/12, there are 223 approved patients, 49 patients under review (the review process involves the validation of a patients submitted documents, proof of residency, photo ID, picture and government assistance if applicable) and 82 patients with physician authorization but have not initiated their registration.  The number of potential patients is 354.  There are 16 approved caregivers and 23 caregivers under review for a total of 39 potential caregivers.  Our customer service unit has contacted and is working with each applicant to ensure a timely and successful registration process.
3- [FiG] - Has DOH check[ed] through the list of registered physicians to confirm their participation in the MMP?
  • [O'Brien] - DOH conducts a routine confirmation of registered physician status with the BME for license in good standing and a valid CDS registration.  To date there are 176 physicians registered with the program.  37 have requested to be inactivated.  72 physicians are actively authoring Attending Physician Statement for their patients.
4- [FiG] -Has DOH, MMP or the NJ Board of Medical Examiners sent instructions, information or offered presentations on how to utilize cannabis therapy and/or participate in the MMP? [specifically to physicians]
  • [O'Brien] -The MMP has been in contact with registered physicians and patients via email and phone providing guidance on MMP procedures.  The MMP also provides information on our web site.  The MMP has engaged theDrug Policy Alliance in the development of a resource library of scholarly articles geared toward providing physicians and patient’s information on the use of medical marijuana.  The MMP has also partnered with theMedical Society of New Jersey in preparing and hosting a webinar to educate the states physician population on issues related to the MMP.  Both of these initiatives are in process.
The Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act of New Jersey was signed into law in January 2010. The Medicinal Marijuana Program was created under DOH in 2011 and John H. O’Brien was hired as Director. Some have been put off by his previous job; 26 years with the NJ State Police. But O’Brien has shown earnest commitment to getting the very limited NJ program running for patients.

The fact that O’Brien responded directly to questions via email, rather than NJDOH communication staff, does indicate a more open dialogue between the MMP and the public.


Chris Goldstein is a respected marijuana reform advocate. As a writer and radio broadcaster he has been covering cannabis news for over a decade. He is a former member of the CMMNJ Board and continues to volunteer. Questions?  chris@freedomisgreen.com

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

CMMNJ October 2012 Agenda














\




Monthly Public Meeting Agenda 
Lawrence Township Library, Room #3
Tuesday, October 9, 2012; 7:00 PM -- 9:00 PM

7:00 PM:  Call meeting to order.   Approve September 2012 minutes.  Discuss:

The lawsuit against DOH for failure to implement the Medicinal Marijuana Program is progressing and it will ask for a court-appointed monitor of the program.

Patients are registering for ID cards with DOH; problems with doctors continue.  ATC update: More delays; promised September opening of Montclair ATC did not occur.  No ATCs open yet.

Adding qualifying conditions to NJ’s medical marijuana law—Board members’ efforts.

NJ Senator Nick Scutari introduced S1977 to decriminalize 50 grams of marijuana.  Fall committee hearing upcoming?  (NJ Assembly passed A1465--decrim for 15 grams--on 6/25/12.)

Ed (NJWeedman) Forchion: Retrial for hung jury on distribution charge starts Oct. 10, 2012.

Upcoming events: NJ State Nurses Assn. to honor Ken Wolski, RN with “Don Award” for his medical marijuana advocacy at Bally’s in Atlantic City on 10/24/12. Tickets available at: http://njsna.org/associations/6274/files/DivaDon%20Invite.pdf.  NORML NJ meeting October 15th at 7pm at the Ale House, New Brunswick, NJ.  Ewing Community Fest 10/6/12, and Lawrence Community Day 10/7/12.  ASA v. DEA oral arguments in federal court 10/16 followed by ASA’s 10th Anniversary benefit dinner in D.C.  NORML Conference, Los Angeles, 10/4-6/12.

Treasury report: Checking: $3163; PayPal: $3353.

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 ohamkrw@aol.com www.cmmnj.org




Monthly Public Meeting Minutes
Lawrence Library
September 11, 2012

7:00 PM:  Meeting called to order.   August 2012 minutes approved.  Discussion:

Diane Riportella, medical marijuana advocate and an ALS patient, died 8/31/12 at age 56.
Jim Miller is hospitalized on and off following an accident requiring multiple surgeries.
Frank Fulbrook was hospitalized following lung surgery.  He hopes to return Oct./Nov.
         
Patients are registering for ID cards with DOH; they are encountering multiple problems with doctors.  See Vanessa Waltz’s survey of registered NJ doctors: NJ DOCTORS STRUGGLE WITH COMPLEX MARIJUANA REGULATIONS.  Reggie Miller, V.P. of marijuanadoctors.com (860.967.8370) discussed his organization and said he has 4000 NJ patients registered and needs doctors.

ATC update: Rumors that Greenleaf ATC in Montclair will open this month; Compassionate Care Foundation in Egg Harbor will open in the fall; Compassionate Care Centers of America Foundation will open on Rt. 1 in Woodbridge in the near future.

Adding qualifying conditions to NJ’s medical marijuana law—Board members’ efforts.

NJ Senator Nick Scutari’s bill, S1977 to decriminalize 50 grams of marijuana referred to committee.  Nick Mellis will propose adding legislators as honorary CMMNJ Board members.

Upcoming events: NJ State Nurses Assn. to honor Ken Wolski, RN with “Don Award” for his medical marijuana advocacy at Bally’s in Atlantic City on 10/24/12. Tickets available at: http://njsna.org/associations/6274/files/DivaDon%20Invite.pdf.  NORML NJ meeting October 15th at 7pm at the Ale House, New Brunswick, NJ. Boston Freedom Rally is 9/15/12.  Ewing Community Fest 10/6/12, and Lawrence Community Day 10/7/12.  NORML Conference, Los Angeles, 10/4-6/12.  Ed (NJWeedman) Forchion retrial starts 10/10.

Treasury report: Checking: $2944; PayPal: $3349.

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

Recent Media Coverage and Blogs:

N.J. medical marijuana program off to slow start thanks to red tape
http://www.newjerseynewsroom.com/healthquest/doctors-must-jump-through-hoops-in-order-to-conform-to-state-medical-marijuana-law

The Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey (CMMNJ) Report: New Jersey Medicinal Marijuana Program Physician/Patient Registry
http://www.scribd.com/doc/105499771/CMMNJ-Report-on-NJ-Medical-Marijuana-Doctor-Registry

NJ Medical Marijuana: Status Update 9/17/12
http://nj1015.com/nj-medical-marijuana-status-update/

The mobster's son and the pot clinic: A feud grows in Jersey
http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2012/09/the_mob_bosss_son_and_the_pot.html

NJ's 1st legal medical pot dispensary delayed
http://www.sacbee.com/2012/09/27/4861018/njs-1st-legal-medical-pot-dispensary.html

NJ Gov Christie denies stalling but admits rewriting medical marijuana law
http://www.freedomisgreen.com/nj-gov-christie-denies-stalling-but-admits-rewriting-medical-marijuana-law/

Medical marijuana dispensary, New Jersey's first, faces delayed opening
http://newyork.newsday.com/news/region-state/medical-marijuana-dispensary-new-jersey-s-first-faces-delayed-opening-1.4051872

Chris Christie Says Medical Marijuana Delay Not His Fault [POLL/AUDIO]
http://nj1015.com/chris-christie-says-medical-marijuana-delay-not-his-fault-audio/



NJ DOCTORS STRUGGLE WITH COMPLEX MARIJUANA REGULATIONS

Trenton – A report issued today by CMMNJ found that physicians registered to participate in the state Medicinal Marijuana Program (MMP) struggled with the initial launch of the registry for qualifying patients.

Read the full report: http://www.scribd.com/doc/105499771

New Jersey operates the only medical cannabis program in the country that requires physicians to join a special registry to recommend marijuana. Seriously ill residents must have a “bona fide” relationship with one of the few registered doctors to apply to the DOH for their own registry card.

CMMNJ Board Member and cancer patient Vanessa Waltz called all of the 148 doctors listed on the NJ Department of Health website and reached 99.

- 46 offices reported that they were actively accepting new patients interested in the program
- 30 offices reported that they were not currently accepting new patients but may in the future
- 23 offices reported that they were registered but were not currently participating in the MMP

The conversations with practice managers and physicians revealed that residents who qualify for the MMP face new and significant barriers to safe cannabis access.

From the report: “Offices reported that there has been no communication initiated by the state in terms of: How the program works; how the patient registration process works; that the physician registry would be published online; that the patient registry was opening; alerts to any changes in guidelines on the DOH informational website.”

CMMNJ has already been on record appealing to the NJ DOH and the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners to take a comprehensive approach to educate NJ physicians about cannabis. Now communication between DOH and the handful of doctors willing to participate in the MMP registry seems to have broken down.

The report continues: “The NJ DOH and the MMP official are not communicating with physicians. Participating doctors did not receive notice when patient registry was opened, and only found out when their phones started ringing or saw it on the news. The DOH has failed in providing doctors with information including clear educational materials, guidelines, and updates. Phone calls and emails from offices are not being returned.”

The final conclusion from CMMNJ: “The logical solution to this problem for patients is to amend the MMP regulations immediately to remove all provisions related to the physician registry.”

Read the full report: http://www.scribd.com/doc/105499771

Or see: http://www.normlnj.org/blog/uncategorized/2012-09-11/survey-of-physicians-registered-with-the-new-jersey-department-of-health-to-recommend-medicinal-marijuana

For more information about this release, please contact Ken Wolski 609 394 2137 or
Chris Goldstein 267 702 3731

CMMNJ, a 501(c)(3) public charity, is a non-profit educational organization.
Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc. www.cmmnj.org
219 Woodside Ave., Trenton, NJ  08618

Extra:

WISCONSIN GLAUCOMA PATIENT HAS USED CANNABIS FOR 40 YEARS TO STAVE OFF BLINDNESS
http://immly.org/gfs-40_pr_2012-09-25.htm

Marijuana And Cancer: Scientists Find Cannabis Compound Stops Metastasis In Aggressive Cancers
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/19/marijuana-and-cancer_n_1898208.html

Worth Repeating: Big Pharma Takeover Of Med Marijuana In 2013
http://www.tokeofthetown.com/2012/07/worth_repeating_big_pharma_takeover_of_med_marijua.php

Do You Think NJ Weedman Ed Forcion Should be Found Not Guilty? [POLL]
http://nj1015.com/do-you-think-nj-weedman-ed-forcion-should-be-found-not-guilty/

Gov. Christie: Don't put “bureaucrats between an American citizen and her doctor”
http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/2012/09/gov-christie-dont-put-bureaucrats.html

Medical Professionals Regarding Accepted Use of Medical Cannabis
Sign On Letter
http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/182/p/salsa/web/common/public/signup?signup_page_KEY=7039

Open letter to Governor Christie:

Dear Governor Christie:

Respectfully, I disagree with your assertion that because only 240 people have registered for the Medical Marijuana program that the sponsors of the legislation have embellished on the demand (http://nj1015.com/chris-christie-says-medical-marijuana-delay-not-his-fault-audio/). ; The fact is, Governor, that there were more than 240 people interested in a fair shot to open Alternative Treatment Centers who attended the public hearings on your regulations.  I personally spoke to more than 240 people across The Garden State who were interested in putting their hard-earned money into such a legal and viable establishment.

There are more than 240 people, working class adults with children, in my township of Livingston who would sign up for an accessible Medical Marijuana Card that would protect them and their families from the long arm of the law.

The fact is, Governor, that the law was written broadly, and by your own admission, the regulations have rewritten the law.  The regulations were designed to set up a system that fails and only by that measure is this program succeeding spectacularly.

This is no different than how you handled the marriage equality issue, Governor... setting up roadblocks to avoid a law that would conflict with your ideologies and national Republican dogma and ambitions, and, the funny thing, Governor, is that in the process we had completely sold out our core Republican free-market principles.  Under your governorship, you have led the expansion of gambling and beer breweries.  The Advocates who bravely came out of the closet and fought for and won their Compassionate Use law freely and fairly based solely on the morality of their arguments and without any money to back them up, have met with a Republican government that has ignored public commentary and shut down the public's interests completely and totally in a new line of business that some politicians had to control.  How powerful the State has become.  How embarrassing for us long-time Republicans who actually believed in our mantra of a smaller, more-efficient, less-intrusive government.

I saw in the news the other day that the Police got a 28-year old with pounds of marijuana and $300,000 in cash (http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/2012/09/300g_found_in_alleged_drug_dea.html). ; There are legions of good law-abiding folks across the Garden State who could have put the cash generated by their legal Alternative Treatment Centers to good work, with real jobs that people are passionate about.  What a waste of time and effort (As an aside, it is tough raising kids even at our age.  I'd have to walk a mile in the shoes of a 28-year-old with a four-year-old son before I sat in judgment of the choices that he had made.  I don't suppose he will get any credit for having chosen Life?!?).

Dearest Governor, we come to you with our heads down and our hands extended in friendship.  Even if we cannot competently compete in the legal commerce of this new industry, will the State please provide patients with an avenue of access to safe and effective medicine (as defined by law, despite your aversion)? Even if the State cannot uphold the law and make safe and effective medicine available to patients, can citizens of The Garden State please be afforded refuge from the long-arm of the law by consulting with their very real physicians with respect to their marijuana use and reasonably obtaining Medical Marijuana Cards?

Governor Christie, you are so powerful, and we, we are so meek.  How may we, the Good People of The Garden State, serve you so that we may avail ourselves to the law and reverse this long, slow, and painful train wreck of your Medical Marijuana Program?

Sincerely,

Justin Escher Alpert
56 Amherst Place
Livingston, New Jersey  07039
(917) 406-2323
justinalpertesq@yahoo.com

Monday, September 17, 2012

Gov. Christie: Don't put “bureaucrats between an American citizen and her doctor”




Dear Commissioner O’Dowd:

We must have a tremendous amount of respect for Governor Christie.  It took a great amount of courage for him to stand up at the Republican National Convention and say that we should not be putting “bureaucrats between an American citizen and her doctor” (http://www.scribd.com/doc/105288051/CC-Patient-and-Doctor, line 267 and http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=61uCHhDLWh4#t=1079s). 
   
The medical marijuana bureaucracy designed under your predecessors’ watch (when the Department of Health and Senior Services ignored public commentary that predicted the inevitable short-comings of the current state of the program (http://www.scribd.com/doc/105499771/CMMNJ-Report-on-NJ-Medical-Marijuana-Doctor-Registry), held sham public hearings, and ultimately saw its leadership resign) is clearly no longer in line with the Governor’s intention to remove bureaucratic interference from between a patient and her doctor. This medical marijuana program was designed to fail and the fact that it is succeeding spectacularly by that measure does not reflect well on its designers and implementers who preceded you.

Perhaps now would be a good time to hold a third public hearing on the medical marijuana regulations, and, this time, perhaps, we could show the public a modicum of respect by having an above-the-line official with decision-making authority from DHSS actually attend the public hearing for this ground-breaking program.  Perhaps, this time, the attending officials could even be permitted to take notes… orspeak (you should have seen the look of horror on the faces of the two junior staffers, Terry Clancy and Samuel Stewart, who were forced to listen in silent motionlessness for two hours to the March 7, 2011 prescient public testimony of real live people in pain… I don’t suppose DHSS video-taped it?).  And if the current broad yet illicit use of medical marijuana across the Garden State is, in fact, a public health threat, perhaps we should remove the doctor registry and ensure with reasonably-accessible medical marijuana cards that patients begin to consult with their very real doctors on a regular basis about their marijuana use (in a gambit to discourage doctor shopping, we have clearly failed miserably).  Who knows, discussion of marijuana use with a patient’s very real physician may uncover other psychological or physiological issues which the marijuana use is masking.  That would truly be a medical model.

Now is the time to heed Governor Christie’s bold and principled call.  The interests of the Governor and the People of the Garden State whom he serves are aligned… we should not place bureaucrats between an American citizen and her doctor.  Now is the time for DHSS to disassemble this perverse, arbitrary, and capricious medical marijuana bureaucracy which was left to be implemented under your willing commission.

Very truly yours,
 
Justin Escher Alpert
56 Amherst Place
Livingston, New Jersey  07039
(917) 406-2323
justinalpertesq@yahoo.com

Monday, September 10, 2012

CMMNJ Report: Survey of NJ Medical Marijuana Doctors


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 9/10/2012

The Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey (CMMNJ)

Contact: Ken Wolski 609 394 2137

NJ DOCTORS STRUGGLE WITH COMPLEX MARIJUANA REGULATIONS

Trenton – A report issued today by CMMNJ found that physicians registered to participate in the state Medicinal Marijuana Program (MMP) struggled with the initial launch of the registry for qualifying patients.


New Jersey operates the only medical cannabis program in the country that requires physicians to join a special registry to recommend marijuana. Seriously ill residents must have a “bona fide” relationship with one of the few registered doctors to apply to the DOH for their own registry card.

CMMNJ Board Member and cancer patient Vanessa Waltz called all of the148 doctors listed on the NJ Department of Health website and reached 99.

- 46 offices reported that they were actively accepting new patients interested in the program
- 30 offices reported that they were not currently accepting new patients but may in the future
- 23 offices reported that they were registered but were not currently participating in the MMP

The conversations with practice managers and physicians revealed that residents who qualify for the MMP face new and significant barriers to safe cannabis access.

From the report: “Offices reported that there has been no communication initiated by the state in terms of: How the program works; how the patient registration process works; that the physician registry would be published online; that the patient registry was opening; alerts to any changes in guidelines on the DOH informational website.”

CMMNJ has already been on record appealing to the NJ DOH and the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners to take a comprehensive approach to educate NJ physicians about cannabis. Now communication between DOH and the handful of doctors willing to participate in the MMP registry seems to have broken down.

The report continues: “The NJ DOH and the MMP official are not communicating with physicians. Participating doctors did not receive notice when patient registry was opened, and only found out when their phones started ringing or saw it on the news. The DOH has failed in providing doctors with information including clear educational materials, guidelines, and updates. Phone calls and emails from offices are not being returned.”

The final conclusion from CMMNJ: “The logical solution to this problem for patients is to amend the MMP regulations immediately to remove all provisions related to the physician registry.”


##

For more information about this release, please contact Ken Wolski 609 394 2137

CMMNJ, a 501(c)(3) public charity, is a non-profit educational organization.
Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc. www.cmmnj.org
219 Woodside Ave., Trenton, NJ  08618

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

CMMNJ monthly public meeting agenda, Sept.11, 2012




















Monthly Public Meeting Agenda 
Lawrence Township Library, Room #3
Tuesday, September 11, 2012; 7:00 PM -- 9:00 PM

7:00 PM:  Call meeting to order.   Approve August 2012 minutes.  Discuss:

Diane Riportella died 8/31/12 at age 56.  She was a medical marijuana advocate and an ALS patient since 2007.  She testified many times in Trenton despite her disability.

Patients are registering for ID cards with DOH; problems with doctors. ATC update: Greenleaf ATC in Montclair to open this month. Compassionate Care Foundation in Egg Harbor to open in fall? Compassionate Care Centers of America Foundation to open on Rt. 1 in Woodbridge?

Adding qualifying conditions to NJ’s medical marijuana law—Board members’ efforts.

NJ Senator Nick Scutari introduced S1977 to decriminalize 50 grams of marijuana.  Fall committee hearing upcoming?  (NJ Assembly passed A1465--decrim for 15 grams--on 6/25/12.)

Court cases:
Eric Hafner, on-going Middletown, NJ case.
Colleen Begley’s case in Burlington Co.
Ed (NJWeedman) Forchion: Retrial starts Oct. 10, 2012.

Upcoming events:
NJ State Nurses Assn. to honor Ken Wolski, RN with “Don Award” for medical marijuana advocacy at Bally’s in Atlantic City on 10/24/12. Tickets available at: http://njsna.org/associations/6274/files/DivaDon%20Invite.pdf.
NORML NJ meeting September 10th at 7pm at the Ale House, New Brunswick, NJ.
Boston Freedom Rally is 9/15/12.
Volunteers needed for Ewing Community Fest 10/6/12, and Lawrence Community Day 10/7/12.
NORML Conference, Los Angeles, 10/4-6/12.

Treasury report: Checking: $2814; PayPal: $3349.

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.  Snacks are served.  (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
Lawrence Library
August 14, 2012  

7:00 PM:  Call meeting to order. July 2012 minutes approved. Discussion:

NJ Dept. of Health (DOH) opened the patient registry for the Medicinal Marijuana Program on August 9.  CMMNJ issued a Press Release (see below) and called a Press Conference at the State House on 8/9.  DOH is not interacting with patients/doctors.  How to get more doctors involved?  Vanessa’s survey of doctors on the list.  Patients to discuss medical marijuana during annual exams.

ATC update: Montclair ATC growing marijuana; set to open in September.  Egg Harbor Twp. ATC to open this fall?  Camden Zoning Board sued over medical marijuana rejection.

Peter sent a formal request to DOH to add a qualifying condition 4 wks. ago; no reply.  Jim f/u.  Also, Daniel Frieling’s very painful fingernails; marijuana helps, but not available to him.

In  Americans for Safe Access v. Drug Enforcement Administration (ASA v. DEA), a lawsuit challenging the federal government's classification of marijuana as a dangerous drug with no medical value, the D.C. Circuit Court will hear oral arguments on October 16th.  See below.

Gov. Christie calls War on Drugs a “Failure” yet:
Eric Hafner’ on-going Middletown, NJ case; Colleen Begley’s trial in Burlington Co. may start 12/12.  Ed (NJWeedman) Forchion: Retrial in October.   John Wilson released to Intensive Supervision Program after 4 months in prison.  Gagged from discussing medical marijuana.

Events: NJ State Nurses Assn. to honor Ken Wolski, RN with “Don Award” for his medical marijuana advocacy at Bally’s in Atlantic City on 10/24/12. Tickets available.
NORML NJ meeting, 7 pm, September 10th at the Ale House, New Brunswick, NJ.
Recent events: 8/2, Unity Tour, Holmdel, NJ., CMMNJ tabled with NORML NJ.

Treasury report: Checking: $2814; PayPal: $3353. Ken to order new shirts.

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



Recent Media Coverage and Blogs:

N.J. medical marijuana still faces hurdles
http://www.philly.com/philly/news/168421036.html?page=1&c=y

Number of medical marijuana patients inches up in N.J.
http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/item/43699

Montclair pot dispensary to open within weeks
http://www.northjersey.com/news/167947275_Montclair_pot_dispensary_to_open_within_weeks.html?c=y&page=1

Patient Registrations for Medical Marijuana Use Begin in New Jersey
http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/patient-registrations-for-medical-mariju-23058/

New Jersey Medical Marijuana Faces Further Delays
http://www.theweedblog.com/new-jersey-medical-marijuana-faces-further-delays/

Tewksbury Township man not eligible for medical marijuana program after doctor retires http://www.nj.com/hunterdon-county-democrat/index.ssf/2012/08/your_comments_tewksbury_townsh.html

Pot Shop Not a Done Deal
http://woodbridge.patch.com/articles/pot-shop-not-a-done-deal

Mayor Says Medical Marijuana Warehouse is "Welcome in Woodbridge"
http://woodbridge.patch.com/articles/mayor-says-medical-marijuana-warehouse-is-welcome-in-woodbridge

Group to open marijuana center in Woodbridge warehouse on Route 1
http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2012/08/group_to_open_marijuana_center.html

More Doctors Than Patients In Medical Marijuana Program [AUDIO]
http://nj1015.com/more-doctors-than-patients-in-medical-marijuana-program-audio/

Rockaway doctor: I'm worried patients on marijuana will wind up arrested
http://www.nj.com/morris/index.ssf/2012/08/doctor_on_medical_marijuana_st.html

Docs weed themselves from NJ pot program
http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20120820/HEALTH_CARE/120829994

Medical Marijuana: New Jersey's Prescription Pot Moves Ahead Slowly
http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2012/08/medical_marijuana_new_jersey_slow.php

50 N.J. patients registering for medical marijuana
http://www.delawareonline.com/viewart/20120815/NEWS02/120815032/50-N-J-patients-registering-medical-marijuana?odyssey=nav%7Chead

Interest High, But Only 18 NJ Residents Are Registered For Use Of Medical Marijuana
http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2012/08/15/interest-high-but-only-18-nj-residents-are-registered-for-use-of-medical-marijuana/

50 NJ patients eligible for medical marijuana
http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/18-NJ-patients-register-to-use-medical-marijuana-3790400.php

Medical marijuana patients in NJ can get ID cards
http://newyork.newsday.com/news/region-state/medical-marijuana-patients-in-nj-can-get-id-cards-1.3899449

Select N.J. patients can get marijuana
http://www.lohud.com/article/20120812/NEWS03/308120042/Select-N-J-patients-can-get-marijuana

Will Strict Medical Marijuana Rules Protect New Jersey From Federal Interference?
http://reason.com/blog/2012/08/10/will-strict-medical-marijuana-rules-prot

Medical Marijuana Patient Registry Begins in Ocean County
http://barnegat-manahawkin.patch.com/articles/medical-marijuana-patient-registry-begins-in-ocean-county-1f070a70

Herald News: Medical pot registration, at last
http://www.northjersey.com/news/opinions/165825116_Herald_News__Medical_pot_registration__at_last.html

Christie's Photo in Marijuana Dispensary
http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/OTUS/gov-christies-face-hang-nj-marijuana-dispensary/story?id=16978912#.UEdgY42PVEE

Medical marijuana registry begins in N.J
http://www.myfoxny.com/story/19234704/medical-marijuana-registry-begins-in-nj

Mixed Feelings About Jersey’s Medical Pot Program Moving Forward
http://nj1015.com/mixed-feelings-about-jerseys-medical-pot-program-moving-forward/

Patients Begin Registering For Medical Marijuana In New Jersey
http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2012/08/09/patients-begin-registering-for-medical-marijuana-in-new-jersey/

Registration begins today for NJ medical marijuana program
http://www.news12.com/articleDetail.jsp?articleId=329960&position=1&news_type=news

NJ's First Medical Marijuana Center Set to Open
http://www.nbcnewyork.com/video/#!/on-air/as-seen-on/NJs-First-Medical-Marijuana-Center-Set-to-Open/165661086

New Jersey’s Medical Marijuana Program Moves Forward [POLL/AUDIO]
http://nj1015.com/new-jerseys-medical-marijuana-program-moves-forward-audio/

Extra:

Why not pot for medical use in NY?
http://newyork.newsday.com/news/health/why-not-pot-for-medical-use-in-ny-1.3896703

Amick: New Jersey looks on as other states pioneer marijuana reform
http://www.nj.com/mercer/index.ssf/2012/08/amick_new_jersey_looks_on_as_o.html

Medical Marijuana Group Endorses Obama for Re-Election
http://politicker.com/2012/08/medical-marijuana-group-endorses-obama-for-re-election/

Medical cannabis relaxes patients
http://www.dchieftain.com/2012/08/25/medical-cannabis-relaxes-patients

Ganjapreneur loses in U.S. Tax Court over marijuana business
http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/08/15/usa-tax-marijuana-idINL2E8JD9IF20120815

NJWeedman to be retried on drug distribution in October
http://www.phillyburbs.com/news/local/burlington_county_times_news/njweedman-to-be-retried-on-drug-distribution-in-october/article_49fb630b-2c21-5ac9-88f0-39736aa5c29c.html


                     
Patient Registration Opens for State’s Medicinal Marijuana Program

WHO: Medical marijuana patients and advocates
WHAT: Will discuss the Patient Registration for the Medicinal Marijuana Program
WHEN: Thursday, August 9, 2012 from 11am - 12:00 noon
WHERE: The State House, Trenton, NJ
WHY:       While this represents progress, patients will still have difficulty accessing the program

Medical marijuana patients and advocates will discuss the newly opened patient registration process for the Medicinal Marijuana Program at the State House in Trenton, NJ on Thursday, August 9, 2012 from 11am - 12:00 noon.

The “New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act" was signed into law on January 18, 2010.  While not a single patient in this state has yet enjoyed the legal protection that this law was designed to provide, the state Department of Health will begin the process of issuing ID cards to qualifying patients.  Ken Wolski, RN, executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc. (CMMNJ) said, “We are glad to see that the patient registration process has finally gotten started.  There are significant hurdles for patients to contend with, however, and it remains to be seen how successful this program will be.”

The New Jersey Department of Health has redesigned the Medicinal Marijuana Program link on its web site.  The web site now includes a Patient Registration Process.  In order to begin the registration process, patients must have a Reference Number that was provided to them by a physician who has registered with the Department of Health and with whom the patient has a bona fide doctor-patient relationship.  Only about 150 physicians have registered so far, which represents less than 1% of the 30,000 licensed physicians in the state.

Patients must have computer access and an email address in order to complete the registration, though there is a provision to allow the physician to assist the patient in registering.  Patients (and their caregivers, if applicable) must have a government-issued photo ID, proof of New Jersey residency, a passport style photograph, and proof of government assistance (if applicable).  A caregiver must also complete a Criminal Background Check.  These documents must be converted to digital format and uploaded to the Department of Health.  The patient must designate an Alternative Treatment Center (ATC) that will be used.  After the Department of Health reviews the documents, they will notify the patient by email to submit the required fee ($200 for two years or $20 if low income) and an ID card will be issued to the patient.  The ID card will allow the patient or caregiver to legally purchase up to two ounces of marijuana a month from an ATC.

CMMNJ, a 501(c)(3) public charity, provides education about the benefits medical marijuana.

For more information, contact:
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

For southern Jersey, contact Chris Goldstein at (505) 577-5093.