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

The Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey (CMMNJ) Report: New Jersey Medicinal Marijuana Program Physician/Patient Registry

NJ Medical Marijuana: Status Update 9/17/12

The mobster's son and the pot clinic: A feud grows in Jersey

NJ's 1st legal medical pot dispensary delayed

NJ Gov Christie denies stalling but admits rewriting medical marijuana law

Medical marijuana dispensary, New Jersey's first, faces delayed opening

Chris Christie Says Medical Marijuana Delay Not His Fault [POLL/AUDIO]


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



Marijuana And Cancer: Scientists Find Cannabis Compound Stops Metastasis In Aggressive Cancers

Worth Repeating: Big Pharma Takeover Of Med Marijuana In 2013

Do You Think NJ Weedman Ed Forcion Should be Found Not Guilty? [POLL]

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

Medical Professionals Regarding Accepted Use of Medical Cannabis
Sign On Letter

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?


Justin Escher Alpert
56 Amherst Place
Livingston, New Jersey  07039
(917) 406-2323