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.

2 comments:

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  2. The use of marijuana is associated with the stimulation of appetite and relief from nausea. Marijuana use reduces muscle spasms and relieves eye pressure for glaucoma patients. The drug is also used in the treatment of health complications such as epilepsy, AIDS and HIV, sexual dysfunction, anxiety and panic attacks, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and fibromyalgia.

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