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” (, line 267 and 
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 (, 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

Monday, September 10, 2012

CMMNJ Report: Survey of NJ Medical Marijuana Doctors


The Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey (CMMNJ)

Contact: Ken Wolski 609 394 2137


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.
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:
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

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

Recent Media Coverage and Blogs:

N.J. medical marijuana still faces hurdles

Number of medical marijuana patients inches up in N.J.

Montclair pot dispensary to open within weeks

Patient Registrations for Medical Marijuana Use Begin in New Jersey

New Jersey Medical Marijuana Faces Further Delays

Tewksbury Township man not eligible for medical marijuana program after doctor retires

Pot Shop Not a Done Deal

Mayor Says Medical Marijuana Warehouse is "Welcome in Woodbridge"

Group to open marijuana center in Woodbridge warehouse on Route 1

More Doctors Than Patients In Medical Marijuana Program [AUDIO]

Rockaway doctor: I'm worried patients on marijuana will wind up arrested

Docs weed themselves from NJ pot program

Medical Marijuana: New Jersey's Prescription Pot Moves Ahead Slowly

50 N.J. patients registering for medical marijuana

Interest High, But Only 18 NJ Residents Are Registered For Use Of Medical Marijuana

50 NJ patients eligible for medical marijuana

Medical marijuana patients in NJ can get ID cards

Select N.J. patients can get marijuana

Will Strict Medical Marijuana Rules Protect New Jersey From Federal Interference?

Medical Marijuana Patient Registry Begins in Ocean County

Herald News: Medical pot registration, at last

Christie's Photo in Marijuana Dispensary

Medical marijuana registry begins in N.J

Mixed Feelings About Jersey’s Medical Pot Program Moving Forward

Patients Begin Registering For Medical Marijuana In New Jersey

Registration begins today for NJ medical marijuana program

NJ's First Medical Marijuana Center Set to Open!/on-air/as-seen-on/NJs-First-Medical-Marijuana-Center-Set-to-Open/165661086

New Jersey’s Medical Marijuana Program Moves Forward [POLL/AUDIO]


Why not pot for medical use in NY?

Amick: New Jersey looks on as other states pioneer marijuana reform

Medical Marijuana Group Endorses Obama for Re-Election

Medical cannabis relaxes patients

Ganjapreneur loses in U.S. Tax Court over marijuana business

NJWeedman to be retried on drug distribution in October

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

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