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 about medical marijuana. The goal of CMMNJ is to have safe and legal access to medical marijuana for qualified New Jersey patients.
In 2014, CMMNJ’s Board of Directors endorsed legalization of marijuana. The Board recognized legalization as the most efficient and effective way to get the therapeutic effects of marijuana to the vast number of patients who can benefit from this plant.
In 2015, CMMNJ held twelve free public meetings at the Lawrence Township Library in Mercer County. At the meetings, 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 2000 supporters each month and posted the agendas on Facebook, Twitter and on the CMMNJ blog. In November 2015, CMMNJ celebrated its 10-year anniversary of monthly meetings at the Lawrence Library.
CMMNJ’s public meetings for 2016 will continue to be held on the second Tuesday of each month from 7 - 9 PM at the Lawrence Twp. (Mercer County) Library, 2751 Brunswick Pike, Lawrenceville, NJ, 08648. All are welcome and there is never a charge to attend.
Highlights of 2015:
New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform (NJUMR) launched efforts to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana for adults in New Jersey with a press conference on 2/18/15 in Newark, NJ. Some of the groups that endorsed the goals of NJUMR, in addition to CMMNJ, include the New Jersey chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union (NJ ACLU), and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP NJ), Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and the NJ Municipal Prosecutor’s Association. Support for marijuana legalization reached a new high in NJ in June 2015 in a Fairleigh Dickinson University Poll with 49% in support and 46% opposed.
The first ever legislative hearing in New Jersey to legalize marijuana for adults was held in the Senate Judiciary Committee on 11/16/15. NJUMR held a Press Conference prior to the hearing. CMMNJ’s executive director spoke at the press conference and testified at the hearing. Lefty Grimes conducted a podcast just outside the committee room at the State House Annex in Trenton and other supporters demonstrated the need for marijuana access with a “Die In.”
CMMNJ members testified at the Assembly Regulatory Oversight Committee Hearing about the deficiencies of the state’s Medicinal Marijuana Program (MMP) on 3/16/15. CMMNJ’s Op Ed, “New Jersey's medical marijuana program languishes - so do the patients it could help” was published on the very day of the hearing. The committee released two bills and one resolution designed to expand the state's program: A-3726, Authorizes medical marijuana for patients with post-traumatic stress disorder; A-4286, Authorizes transfer of excess medical marijuana between alternative treatment centers; and ACR-224, Determines that certain medical marijuana program regulations are inconsistent with the legislative intent.
CMMNJ sponsored and participated in a series of Statehouse Podcasts every Thursday for 34 straight weeks (from 4/2/15 to 11/19/15), rain or shine. Permits were obtained from the State Police each week for the demonstrations. The podcasts and demonstrations called attention to the deficiencies of the MMP and the need for legalization of marijuana. A party was held on 11/19/15 to mark the winter suspension of regular podcasts.
Genny Barbour’s story from Maple Shade, NJ made PEOPLE magazine and Good Housekeeping magazine this year after being featured on CMMNJ TV: “Genny's Mom & Dad” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTBMMyBzlJc
Genny’s father, Roger Barbour, filed a lawsuit when the LARC School and the Maple Shade Board of Education refused to allow his wife, Lora, to administer an oral dose of marijuana to Genny at the school. Marijuana was the only treatment that helped to control Genny’s seizures. The judge sided with the school. This motivated the state legislature to introduce A4587, a bill that requires schools and facilities for the developmentally disabled to adopt policies permitting the use of medical marijuana for qualifying patients. The bill was introduced on 6/22/15, and passed in the Assembly three days later. The bill passed in the Senate on 6/29/15 and then awaited action by the governor. Over four months later, Gov. Christie finally signed A4587 on 11/9/15. The law allows registered caregivers and parents to administer doses of oral marijuana in schools and certain facilities. Roger Barbour is continuing his lawsuit in an attempt to have nurses at those facilities administer the oral doses of marijuana.
A resolution in support of legalizing marijuana passed unanimously at an Asbury Park city council meeting on 7/8/15. The resolution was introduced by Randy Thompson from Help Not Handcuffs. Similar resolutions were introduced in other cities and counties in New Jersey. The resolution in Trenton was tabled by city council on 11/5/15, which led to a protest in City Hall by supporters of the resolution.
CMMNJ members testified at the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee on 12/21/15. Two marijuana bills were considered that day. S3162, a bill to ensure workplace protections for medical marijuana patients was released from committee. S2898, a bill to authorize medical marijuana for qualifying patients with post-traumatic stress disorder, was not voted on at the hearing. However, the Committee Chairman, Senator Vitale, seemed confident that S2898 would pass out of committee at a subsequent hearing.
The December 2015 CMMNJ public meeting was podcast by Sativa Cross. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMNI_LGKC9E
“CMMNJ TV” began broadcasting from Princeton Community TV on 11/11/14 and continued throughout 2015. Episodes run twice a week for two weeks—on Tues., at 10 pm & Fri., at 10:30 am on Comcast Ch. 30 & Verizon FIOS Ch. 45. Episodes of “CMMNJ TV” are taped one day each month at the Princeton Community TV Studio. “CMMNJ TV” episodes also include footage shot outside the studio and are edited by Ed “Lefty” Grimes of “Sativa Cross.”
CMMNJ’s “Patient Handbook 2015” was available by April 2015. The 73-page handbook contains valuable information, resources and support for medical marijuana patients and their families and friends in New Jersey. However, the handbook resulted in a “Cease and Desist” letter from Compassionate Care Foundation (CCF) Alternative Treatment Center in Egg Harbor, NJ that alleged improper use of the CCF trademark. CMMNJ suspended distribution of the handbook and obliterated CCF’s trademark from the handbook and agreed not to include any representations of it in future editions. Handbooks are currently available from CMMNJ with a suggested donation of $10.
CMMNJ partnered with the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) on the largest drug policy reform conference ever held in the country, the 2015 reform Conference, 11/18-21/15 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott, Arlington, VA.
New Jersey’s Medicinal Marijuana Program (MMP):
The third anniversary of legal sales of marijuana in New Jersey was on 12/6/15. The 6th anniversary of New Jersey’s Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act becoming law will be on 1/18/16.
The New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) reported that over 5,000 ID cards for patients and caregivers have been issued in the state—a state with almost nine million residents. Over 300 doctors have signed onto the physician registry (out of over 25,000 doctors in the state). Five Alternative Treatment Centers (ATCs) are open and dispensing medical marijuana to qualified patients. Two new ATC’s opened in 2015: Compassionate Sciences ATC in Bellmawr, NJ, and Breakwater ATC in Cranbury, NJ.
John H. O'Brien, a state police lieutenant who was named director of the New Jersey medical marijuana program more than three years ago, resigned in April 2015. James Baracia, a 19-year veteran of the state police, was named acting director. Patients found O'Brien approachable, but Gov. Christie's administration created delays and obstacles that hurt the program. The governor said at several town-hall meetings that he was concerned that medical marijuana could fall into the wrong hands and that he would oppose any expansion of the program.
Edible marijuana products are still not available in New Jersey at the end of 2015, nor are residents permitted to obtain these products from jurisdictions where they are available.
The DOH published its 2014 Annual Report in March 2015. The DOH commissioner said she would start the process to add qualifying conditions to the MMP; however, by the end of 2015 the DOH was still not even accepting applications to add qualifying conditions.
CMMNJ submitted a Petition for Rulemaking to the DOH requesting medical marijuana regulatory changes in October 2014. Included in this petition was the justification to add post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition for marijuana therapy in New Jersey. The petition was noted in the National Law Review. The DOH rejected the entire CMMNJ petition on 3/15/15, indicating the rigid refusal of the DOH to allow the slightest expansion of the MMP: http://www.nj.gov/health/legal/documents/njac864mmp.pdf
Marijuana bills in New Jersey’s Legislature:
Several marijuana reform bills were introduced into the New Jersey Legislature in 2014 and continued through the two-year legislative session throughout 2015. These bills include S1896/A3094 (to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana); A3525/S2312 (to comprehensively fix the MMP); A3726/S2898 (to add PTSD to the list of conditions that qualify for marijuana therapy) and, A218 (to decriminalize marijuana). A new two-year legislative session will begin in January 2016 so all bills that have not passed into law will have to be re-introduced with new numbers. Gov. Christie has vowed to veto any of the marijuana reform bills that get through the legislature to his desk.
Major marijuana cases in New Jersey courts:
In November 2014, Ed (NJWeedman) Forchion appealed his 2010 marijuana conviction. Forchion said New Jersey’s marijuana laws are “racist” and contradictory. Forchion argued in his appeal that:
"The pretrial rulings prevented defendant from arguing that the law he was being prosecuted under was contradictory and thus constitutionally flawed…For the foregoing reasons and authorities cited, including the ACLU Report, (New Jersey’s) marijuana laws are unconstitutional as they are inherently and de facto discriminatory. The defendant’s conviction must be reversed and the indictment dismissed."
CMMNJ published the following Op Ed in support of NJWeedman’s appeal: “'Weedman' case proves religious discrimination in Burlington County”
However, NJWeedman’s appeal was denied by Superior Court Appellate Division in August 2015. CMMNJ’s Emeritus Board member, Allan Marain, Esq., filed CMMNJ's amicus brief to the NJ Supreme Court in support of Ed (NJWeedman) Forchion's "medical necessity" appeal of his conviction: http://norml.org/pdf_files/brief_bank/NJ_v_Edward_R_Forchion_AmicusMotion.pdf
The NJ Supreme Court approved CMMNJ’s Motion, but declined to review the appellate decision.
The courts continue to remain openly hostile to marijuana cases.
In the trial of Jon Peditto in Toms River, NJ, Jon rejected plea bargains in an attempt to appeal to the jury that he should not be found guilty of growing 17 marijuana plants, despite admitting that he grew them. Jon represented himself at court during the week of 10/19/15. Several attempts were made to educate the public in Toms River about the ability of jurors to find defendants not guilty if they believe the law is wrong or wrongly applied.
There were demonstrations at the courthouse and individuals passed out literature from the Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA). CMMNJ published an Op Ed in the local newspaper: “WOLSKI: Sentence doesn’t fit crime” http://www.app.com/story/opinion/columnists/2015/10/14/wolski-sentence-fit-crime/73914828/
Judge Blaney made it difficult, if not impossible, for Jon to adequately represent himself by interrupting him repeatedly and disallowing many of his arguments. The courtroom scene led one observer to declare that he was witness to “the American mass incarceration machine in action.” The jury seemed unable to render a verdict after three days, but Judge Blaney insisted that they return to their deliberations. Finally, the jury found Jon guilty of the most serious charge. Jon was immediately taken into custody, where he remains, in the Ocean County jail. Jon faces a mandatory minimum term of 10 years in state prison when he is sentenced by Judge Blaney in January 2016. Jon asked for mercy in Toms River, but found none.
Marches and Rallies:
Several large and successful rallies for marijuana reform were held in the area this year. These rallies were coordinated by local activists Ed “NJWeedman” Forchion, Kyle Moore, and the East Coast Cannabis Coalition (ECCC). Some of the organizations that participated in these demonstrations included the Legalize Marijuana Party, the Green Party of North Jersey, New Jersey Libertarian Party, New Jersey Grannies for Grass, Students for Sensible Drug Policy - TCNJ, NORML New Jersey Women's Alliance, Pittsburgh NORML Women's Alliance, Pittsburgh NORML, Ramapo College NORML, Parents 4 Pot Pennsylvania, People's Smokeout - NYC, The National Cannabis Patients Wall, The Human Solution, Maryland NORML, and Delaware NORML. CMMNJ publicized, supported and attended the marches and rallies. These demonstrations included the open use of marijuana by adults, both by card-carrying patients and also as acts of civil disobedience by non-qualifying patients, as well as by those who support the use of marijuana for religious, creative and social/recreational purposes. There were no arrests at the demonstrations in 2015.
The Pennsylvania State Nurses Association (PSNA) endorsed medical marijuana in 2013 and continues to consistently support the issue. The CMMNJ executive director testified at the Pennsylvania Joint House Committee hearing on SB3, PA’s medical marijuana bill, on 3/24/15 in Philadelphia. Senate Bill 3 passed the state Senate on 5/12/15 by a 40-7 vote. Amendments were made during this process that weakened the bill. The new governor, Tom Wolf, who is supportive of medical marijuana, came on board in 2015. However, progress on SB3 stalled in the House for much of the year, despite polls showing 92% of Commonwealth residents support access to medical marijuana. Lebanon County Sen. Mike Folmer is continuing his efforts to get medical cannabis legislation to the governor’s desk and is urging the House to bring up the measure for a vote as soon as possible. Sen. Folmer asked that stories of NJ patients and their issues with the state’s MMP be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
CMMNJ members attended the following public events in 2015:
“Medical Marijuana” Grand Rounds at Princeton House, 1/26/15 with Dr. Jahan Marcu & DPA NJ’s Meagan Glaser.
“Medical Marijuana: Myths & Medicine,” PA State Nurses Assn., 3/26/15 Millersville Univ.
"Ethical Decisions & Medical Marijuana" Ken Wolski’s lecture for 2 CEU’s, Tri-County Regional Ethics Committee (TREC) Conference, Burlington County College, NJ 11/10/15.
DE NORML Lobby Day, 1/29/15, Dover, Delaware.
NJ SPRING SMOKE-OUT 3/21/15, New Jersey State House, Trenton.
March for the Love of Cannabis, Wilmington, De 2/14/15.
ASA’s National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference, 3/27-31/15, Washington, DC.
"Patients Out of Time" conference, W. Palm Beach, Florida, 5/21-23/15. http://bit.ly/1z3o1Y3
Protest, March & Concert, 4/20/15 & 4/25/15, Trenton’s Mill Hill Park and the NJ Statehouse.
Poor People’s Parade for Pot (Global Marijuana March), 5/2/15, Camden, NJ.
420 marijuana legalization event with PhillyNORML, 4/18/15, Connie’s Ric Rac, S. Philly.
Philadelphia Veterans Protest with Mike Whiter, Independence Hall, 11/8/15.
2015 reform Conference, 11/18-21/15, Crystal Gateway Marriott, Arlington, VA.
Asbury Park Event by Roland Ramos & Sara Sensimilla, 9/12/15.
Septemberfest, Hamilton Twp., 9/13/15.
Boston Freedom Rally 9/26/15 & 9/27/15.
Trial of Jon Peditto, Toms River; jury selection and trial 10/19/15 - 10/22/15.
Weed & Greet Summer BBQ at NJWeedman’s “Joint” 8/1/15, Trenton, NJ.
Hemp Heals, Philly, 7/31/15.
NJWeedman’s event, Sat., 9/5/15, and March for Ganja, 9/4/15, Trenton.
"Higher Ground @ Asbury Spark" on 9/12/15, Asbury Park, with Roland Ramos.
PicklePalooza, 9/19/15, Island Beach State Park, NJ.
NJ Cannabis Freedom Rally, 10/17/15, Trenton, with East Coast Cannabis Coalition.
Smoke Down Prohibition 2.0: The Return, Friday, 7/10/15, Love Park, Philly.
Slightly Stoopid, Stone Pony, Asbury Park, 7/11/15.
ACLU NJ Annual Meeting, Princeton, NJ 10/20/15.
Food & clothing drive, "NJWeedman's Joint" 322 E. State St., Trenton, until 12/19/15.
2015 CMMNJ Publications:
CMMNJ Monthly Agendas and Minutes also contain links to published reports by and about CMMNJ Board members and friends. For the 2015 CMMNJ Agendas and Minutes, see:
Dec. 2015:Minutes only: http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/2015_12_01_archive.html
Nov. 2015: Agenda: http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/2015/11/november-2015-cmmnj-public-meeting-10.html
Testimony to the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee in support of legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana for adults
WOLSKI: Sentence doesn’t fit crime
Oct. 2015: Agenda: http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/2015/10/monthly-public-meeting-agenda-lawrence.html
Asbury Park Resolution to Legalize Marijuana for Adults in New Jersey: http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/2015/10/asbury-park-resolution-to-legalize.html
The truth about marijuana | Opinion
Sept. 2015: Agenda: http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/2015_09_01_archive.html
Aug. 2015: Agenda: http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/2015/08/cmmnj-agenda-for-aug-11-2015-public.html
Irish Legislature Urged to Reform Drug Policy http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/2015_08_01_archive.html
July 2015: Agenda: http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/2015/07/cmmnj-agenda-for-july-14-2015-public.html
Asbury Park Resolution: http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/2015/07/resolution-in-support-of-legalizing.html
June 2015: Agenda: http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/2015/06/cmmnj-minutes-for-june-2015-public.html
May 2015: Agenda: http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/2015_05_01_archive.html
April 2015: Agenda: http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/2015_04_01_archive.html
March 2015: CMMNJ Legislative Testimony 3/2/15 by Maryanne Boniello
CMMNJ Legislative Testimony 3/2/15 by Vanessa Waltz
CMMNJ Legislative Testimony 3/2/15 by Ken Wolski, RN, MPA
Opinion: New Jersey's medical marijuana program languishes - so do the patients it could help http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/03/opinion_new_jerseys_medical_marijuana_program_lang.html
Feb. 2015: Agenda: http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/2015_02_01_archive.html
Jan. 2015: Agenda: http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/2015/01/public-meeting-agenda-for-january-13.html
Petition for Rulemaking: http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/2015/01/petition-for-rulemaking-medical.html
CMMNJ TV Episodes–
Randy Thompson "Help Not Handcuffs"
CMMNJ TV - Mary Jane Bunker
CMMNJ TV- Vanessa Maria
CMMNJ TV: Jon Peditto
CMMNJ TV: Louis Santiago
CMMNJ TV: Dr. David Nathan
CMMNJ TV: James Babb
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 and contributions throughout the year. As we are an all-volunteer organization, we are nothing without you! Special thanks go to:
Jim Price, the CMMNJ Communications Director, has developed the “Patient Handbook 2015,” a valuable resource for patients.
Ed “Lefty” Grimes has been editing “CMMNJ TV” episodes while producing high quality videos of medical marijuana patients and families. Lefty is also conducting his “Ignorance is No Excuse” tour which distributes the MMP Attorney General guidelines to local police departments. Lefty has been posting these videos on YouTube and social media sites. Lefty conducts Weekly Statehouse Podcasts, for example, this interview with Bill Caruso and Chris Goldstein: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/77529685/highlight/666923
At these podcasts, “Magic Butter Machines” which have a retail value $175 - $200, are raffled off monthly. Lefty also conducted the first-ever podcast of a CMMNJ meeting from the Lawrence Library in December 2015.
CMMNJ is also grateful for the many discussions, ably moderated by volunteer administrators, on Facebook’s Friends of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana-NJ at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/62462971150/
CMMNJ 2015 Board Update:
Formal meetings of the CMMNJ Board of Directors were held on 4/22/15 and 8/17/15.
Carolyn Piro and Jay Lassiter resigned from the Board of CMMNJ this year. CMMNJ is very grateful for the support that Carolyn and Jay gave to medical marijuana in New Jersey during their time on the Board.
CMMNJ voted onto its Board in 2015 the following members: Amanda Hoffman, Vanessa Maria, and Diane Fornbacher. Diane actually resumed her place on the Board after resigning to become a “medical marijuana refugee” and fleeing to Colorado in order to obtain access to her medicine.
At the close of 2015, the CMMNJ Board consists of the following 10 members: Kenneth R. Wolski, RN, Executive Director, James Miller, Senior Director, Edward R. Hannaman, Esq., Secretary, and Board members, Nick Mellis, Peter Rosenfeld, Vanessa Waltz, Larry Vargo, Amanda Hoffman, Vanessa Maria, and Diane Fornbacher. CMMNJ’s Honorary Board Member is Allan Marain, Esq. Jim Price continues in his role as Communications Director.
A detailed treasury report was forwarded to CMMNJ Board members. In summary, CMMNJ finished the year with a checking account balance of $2,475 and a PayPal account balance of $3,650. In 2015, CMMNJ had expenditures of $4,265 and income of $3,424.
About 50,000 all hemp wristbands and necklaces were donated to CMMNJ by Pete Christopher this year. The multicolored bands were made in Romania. Suggested price is $3/apiece, or two (2) for $5. Wholesale prices are available.
CMMNJ is 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 2016 Recommendations:
- Continue to build support for legalization of marijuana in New Jersey.
- Begin national clinical studies of marijuana for MS and PTSD.
- Reschedule marijuana to a more appropriate schedule, both in New Jersey and nationally.
- Improve New Jersey’s Medicinal Marijuana Program in ways that bring timely access of high quality and affordable marijuana to patients who can benefit from it.
Schedule of CMMNJ 2016 meetings:
CMMNJ’s free, public meetings will continue to be held on the second Tuesday of each month from 7 - 9 PM at the Lawrence Twp. Branch of the Mercer County Library, Room #2 (NOT the usual Room #3 in 2016). There will be no April or July meeting in 2016 due to a schedule conflict at the library. (Meeting at the library does not imply the county’s endorsement of our issue.)
Also, follow CMMNJ on Facebook, Friends of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana-NJ at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/62462971150/
Ken Wolski, RN, MPA
Coalition for Medical Marijuana—New Jersey, Inc. www.cmmnj.org
219 Woodside Ave., Trenton, NJ 08618
January 5, 2016