Wednesday, January 6, 2021

CMMNJ Year End Report 2020



The Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey, Inc. (CMMNJ) is a non-profit educational organization incorporated in the State of New Jersey and recognized by the federal government as a 501(c)(3) public charity. 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 New Jersey patients. March 10, 2020 was the 17th anniversary of the founding of CMMNJ.

CMMNJ’s public meetings for 2021 will continue to be held on the second Tuesday of each month from 7 - 9 pm via Zoom until further notice. All are welcome at these meetings and there is never a charge to attend. 

New Jersey Highlights of 2020

Voters agreed to legalize cannabis in New Jersey. The Final Election Results from November 3, 2020 on Question 1, a constitutional amendment to legalize cannabis for personal, non-medical use by adults who are age 21 years or older, subject to regulation by Cannabis Regulatory Commission, effective 1/1/21:

YES - 2,737,682 (67.08%)

NO - 1,343,610 (32.92%)

(As of 12/8/20 with 6,348 of 6,348 Precincts Reporting - 100%)

Home Cultivation: Visit the website: Let Patients Grow NJ #JeffsLaw.  Sign the petition for Home cultivation for patients: Let Patients Grow NJ.

The Medical Marijuana Program continues to expand with the Murphy administration, but additional ATCs are held up by legal challenges, and the 2019 Jake Honig law has yet to be fully implemented.

Marijuana reform made progress nationally and regionally.

CMMNJ supports Patients Out of Time’s coalition to deschedule cannabis.

Cannabis legalization

In 2014, CMMNJ’s Board of Directors endorsed legalization of marijuana since legalization is the best way to get this essential medicine to the most people. Legalization is also an important step in undoing the harms to society that are caused by our current policy of drug prohibition.

The New Jersey Legislature was unable to pass a marijuana legalization bill in 2019. Instead, cannabis legalization in NJ would be decided by a ballot question on November 3, 2020. The Constitutional Amendment that appeared on the ballot, SCR183/ACR840, passed in the Senate (24-16) and in the Assembly (49-24-1) on 12/16/2019, after Senate and Assembly hearings on 12/12/19. 

By March 2020, CMMNJ started a “Get Out the Vote” (GOTV) campaign. CMMNJ joined with HeadCount’s Cannabis Voter Project  and urged residents to text CANNA to 40649 or text WEVOTE to 40649. We urged residents to plant the seeds of change and #growyourpower; and to talk to elected officials about cannabis reform.

In April, CMMNJ began sending letters to all NJ colleges and universities in the state as part of our Get Out the Vote campaign.  We asked higher education administrators for their support in our efforts. It was a challenging time because no one knew for sure if there would even be students on campus in the fall. Nevertheless, we got some encouraging replies from various academic administration members. CMMNJ volunteer Dee Carnegia forwarded CMMNJ’s letter, GOTV at Princeton U, to about 50 NJ colleges and universities and she kept track of our efforts and followed up with emails and telephone contacts where appropriate. Another CMMNJ volunteer, Tracey McHugh, reached out to fraternities and sororities in the state with the same GOTV message.

An April poll showed 61% of NJ voters say they will approve the Constitutional amendment to legalize cannabis for adults. CMMNJ redoubled its efforts, believing that we should proceed as if we are behind in the polls and need to improve our standing. A later poll showed 68 percent of NJ respondents support legalizing cannabis for adults.

Cannabis Decriminalization bill A1897 passed in the NJ Assembly 6/18/20.

Due to the pandemic, Gov. Phil Murphy ordered millions of ballots to be mailed to voters by Oct. 5.  The state provided more ballot drop boxes. To count, ballots had to be postmarked by Nov. 3 and arrive no later than 8 PM a week after Election Day.

NJ.Com: Campaign to legalize marijuana kicks off with 55 days until election

In June, “NJ CAN 2020” joined the effort to approve the ballot question. NJ CAN 2020 had an experienced campaign manager, Axel Owen, who worked with CMMNJ closely. NJ CAN 2020 members included the ACLU NJ, the NAACP NJ, Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, NJ United for Marijuana Reform, the Latino Action Network, the American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, & the NJ CannaBusiness Association. See NJ CAN 2020 30-second ad: Vote YES to Legalize Cannabis in New Jersey! 

Join Gov. Phil Murphy in the fight to legalize adult-use marijuana. Rick Steves helped with: It’s Time to Legalize Marijuana in New Jersey. Robert Platshorn supported the legalization effort with his video The Silver Tour.

CMMNJ held a Poster Contest to inspire people to vote YES on November 3rd. CMMNJ’s Poster Contest winner is the logo by Jo Anne Zito. Yard signs that were made with variations on this design were available from CMMNJ by October 9, 2020. Many volunteers helped to pay for and distribute the yard signs. 


Marijuana legalization won in all 21 counties in New Jersey, with approval rates from 75% in Camden County to 60% in Ocean County.  The Constitutional Amendment takes effect on 1/1/21. Per the ballot question’s Interpretive Statement: “The Cannabis Regulatory Commission (will) oversee the new adult cannabis market…The scope of the commission’s new authority (will) be detailed in laws enacted by the Legislature.” More info at: SCR183/ACR840.

Many thanks to the friends, family, colleagues, advocates, organizations, patients, and voters who made the victory for cannabis legalization possible. It was not just an election victory; it was a thorough repudiation of the war on marijuana in every county in New Jersey! CMMNJ said that our state is now on track to become healthier, wealthier, and safer!

On November 6th, Gov. Murphy Announced Cannabis Regulatory Commission Appointments: Dianna Houenou, Chair, & Jeff Brown, Executive Director. 

CMMNJ’s Adult-use Cannabis Recommendations were distributed:

However, as 2020 ended, N.J.’s legal cannabis bill was held up again at the final stage because Gov. Murphy wanted to clarify penalties for underage use.

HOME GROW

In January 2020, Jo Anne Zito published the Op Ed: Allow home cultivation of medical marijuana. See Facebook: #THEYSHALLGROW

Jo Anne and Jim Miller worked diligently for a home cultivation program for NJ MMP patients. They encouraged people to sign the petition: Let Patients Grow NJ. By March, about 800 had signed. The petition urged legislators to meet with CMMNJ to discuss patient concerns. Governor Murphy said he’d sign a Home Grow bill (Jeff’s Law) if we got it to his desk, but the bill still needs to be written and introduced. 

Also, CMMNJ encouraged visits to the website: Let Patients Grow NJ #JeffsLaw. We asked supporters to establish contact with NJ legislators and create an email trail and post it. In October, Jo Anne published another Op Ed: A few cannabis plants to love at home | Zito

New Jersey Department of Health Medicinal Marijuana Program (MMP)

The eighth anniversary of legal sales of marijuana in New Jersey was on 12-6-20. The tenth anniversary of New Jersey’s Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act becoming law was on 1-18-20.

In 2020, Alternative Treatment Centers (ATCs) serving medical marijuana were designated “essential services” by the State of New Jersey and allowed to continue operating during the pandemic. The Department of Health (DOH) allowed ATCs to offer curbside pickup to patients. Caregiver fees are reduced to $20. However, patients still saw long lines at ATCs, reduced availability of specific strains, and temporary ATC closings.  In May, Jeff Brown said, “More can be done.” 

There are thirteen ATCs currently dispensing medical marijuana at the end of 2020 (9 ATCs & 3 satellites) to serve over 80,000 patients.

Columbia Care in Vineland, 

Ascend Wellness, (formerly Greenleaf) in Montclair, 

The Botanist (Compassionate Care Foundation) Egg Harbor & Atlantic City, 

Garden State Dispensary in Woodbridge, Eatontown, and Union Township,

Breakwater in Cranbury, 

Curaleaf in Bellmawr, 

Harmony in Secaucus, 

Rise in Paterson, 

Zen Leaf in Elizabeth,

Apothecarium in Phillipsburg, NJ opened in November 2020.

In August 2020, New Jersey state officials allowed providers to remotely prescribe medical marijuana during the coronavirus pandemic using telemedicine.

The  DOH changed and reissued the RFA for 24 new ATCs in NJ on 7/1/19, including up to 8 in the north, 8 in central NJ, 7 in the south, and 1 “at-large”; these include 5 for cultivation, 15 dispensaries, and 4 vertically integrated permits. Application forms were posted July 15; due on 8/21 (Dispensary) and 8/22 (Cultivation & Vertically Integrated). An NJ appellate court agreed to halt the review of 196 applications for 24 medical marijuana licenses. The DOH said 51 applications were disqualified for various reasons, but applicants are appealing that decision. The Appellate court on 7/2/20 denied the DOH motion to end the stay and award ATC licenses. The DOH defended its actions, saying it was for good reasons that certain applicants were rejected on November 18, 2019. (Awards were supposed to be announced in December.) This continues to halt the progress, over a year later, of 24 additional NJ medical marijuana licenses. State urged to compromise. Linda Graves, an applicant, gave updates on the issue at monthly CMMNJ meetings. Many applicants are being harmed financially by the delay. There may be additional legal challenges and appeals. 

A three-judge appellate court vacated the 2018 decision to award six licenses for new medical marijuana companies and remanded it to the health department to develop a new rating system. The court did not revoke the six licenses though.

Ed Tobias, Esq. prepared a brief due March 30th—he wants more licenses. Ed also has the first license to grow hemp in NJ—he said anyone can get one for $400. 

The NJ tax on medical marijuana dropped on July 1 from 6.625% to 4%. Next year at this time it will be 2% and the following year 0.

An NJ appellate court ruled in favor of reimbursement for a worker’s medical marijuana after a workplace accident. On March 10, 2020, the NJ Supreme Court affirmed the appellate decision in the Wild case and ruled employers cannot fire workers who use medical marijuana while off the job.

A Medical Cannabis Dispensary Technician training class will be held this spring at the Raritan Valley Community College in Branchburg, NJ.

NJ patients were advocating for home delivery along with home cultivation. CMMNJ encouraged supporters to send the letter from NORML to Allow Home Delivery for medical marijuana patients! The NJ MMP issued regulations on 6/25/20 to allow ATCs to begin home delivery. However, by the end of 2020, ATCs had still not implemented this service.

There was a weekly record increase of patients in the MMP during the week of 3/20/20 when over 4,000 patients joined the program. Ken said in a media interview that he thought this was likely due to an increase in community anxiety brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

Marijuana rescheduling/descheduling and national issues

The New Jersey Superior Court Appellate Division heard oral arguments for marijuana rescheduling/descheduling in New Jersey on 11/29/16 in Trenton. Nearly a year later, in November 2017, the Appellate Court ruled that the Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs (“the Division”) in the New Jersey Attorney General’s office erred when he said he lacked the authority to reclassify/reschedule/de-schedule marijuana. The Director must reconsider his decision in the “post-CUMMA era” the court said. New Jersey must recognize marijuana's medicinal value, the court insisted. The Division recognizes that it has the authority to reevaluate how marijuana is classified under state law.

Accordingly, rescheduling/descheduling hearings were held by the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General on 4/19/18 in Newark and on 4/24/18 in Trenton. For CMMNJ testimony, click the links. We still await summaries or other results of these hearings. 

Patients Out of Time has created a coalition of organizations and individuals to demand the end of federal cannabis prohibition with their Resolution to De-Schedule Cannabis. Please share. 

Ken commented on a Proposed Rule by the Drug Enforcement Administration, DEA’s announcement that it will begin processing applications to cultivate marijuana for research. 

On Election Day, November 3rd, 2020, the following states legalized marijuana for adults: Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota, along with New Jersey. South Dakota also legalized medical marijuana, as did Mississippi. Oregon decriminalized all drugs.  In Illinois, legal marijuana sales began 1/1/20.

On December 4, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3884, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2020 (MORE Act.)  This bill would decriminalize and deschedule cannabis, provide for reinvestment in persons adversely impacted by the War on Drugs, and provide for expungement of federal cannabis offenses. There are concerns about this bill.

2020 CMMNJ Publications

CMMNJ Monthly Agendas and Minutes also contain links to published reports by and about CMMNJ Board members and friends.  For the CMMNJ Agendas and Minutes, see the CMMNJ blog. May 16, 2020 was the 11th anniversary of the CMMNJ blog.

CMMNJ Meeting Agenda for December 8, 2020

CMMNJ November 10, 2020 Meeting Agenda 

CMMNJ’s Adult-use Cannabis Recommendations

CMMNJ Meeting Agenda for October 13, 2020 and September Minutes

CMMNJ Public Meeting Agenda for September 8, 2020 and August Minutes

CMMNJ Public Meeting Agenda for August 11, 2020 and July Minutes

CMMNJ Public Meeting Agenda for July 14, 2020 and June Minutes

CMMNJ Public Meeting Agenda for June 9, 2020 and May Minutes

CMMNJ Public Meeting Agenda for May 12, 2020 and April Minutes

CMMNJ Public Meeting Agenda for April 9, 2020 and March Minutes

CMMNJ Public Meeting Agenda for March 10, 2020 and February 4, 2020 Minutes.

CMMNJ Public Meeting Agenda for January 14, 2020 and December 2019 Minutes:

CMMNJ Year End Report 2019

In May, Ken resurrected his first public call for marijuana reform--a Letter To The Editor of The Evening Times of Trenton, NJ published on August 10, 1972: 

CMMNJ’s Board member Peter Rosenfeld published an Op Ed supporting the adult use ballot question in NJ.

Board member Jo Anne Zito published an Op Ed 8/25/20: I’ve been unjustly criminalized by N.J.’s cannabis laws. Decriminalize it now! 

CMMNJ members took part in events and stories in 2020

American Cannabis Nurses Association: 2020 Annual Conference...A Virtual Experience, 12/6-8/20.

“Green Repeal” (46-minute podcast): “How the Coronavirus is Affecting the Cannabis Industry with Ken Wolski." 

NJ Cannabis Insider: Q&A with Ken Wolski.

WEED THE PEOPLE New Jersey CANNABIS Symposium Why vote YES on Ballot Initiative on November 3rd  #RUTGERS

Profile of CMMNJ Executive Director: Cannabis influencers: The tireless nurse and original advocate for medical marijuana

Letter To the Editor: Irony from N.J. pot-bill obstructionist

The CannAtlantic Cannabis Conference, 9/26/20

For marijuana advocate Ken Wolski, legalization of drug was long overdue: Phil Gianficaro, Burlington County Times, 11/8/20.

Drug War Chronicle: Will New Jersey Be the Next State to Legalize Weed?

Delaware cannabis legalization panel, December 16, 7pm-9pm via Zoom. 

Cannabis: A Handbook for Nurses” by Carey S. Clark 

“Seniors and Medical Marijuana,” JCC, Edison, NJ, 2/11/20.

“Seniors and Medical Marijuana,” Princeton Present Day Club, 3/4/20.

Princeton Senior Resource Center: “MEDICAL MARIJUANA” Friday, Oct 23

March Against the War on Drugs, 7/10/20, Newark City Hall to Peter Francisco Park Rally 

Sativa Cross Podcast, 4/20/20,  Trenton State House, 7/2/20, 7/23, 8/27, 9/24, 10/22, 11/26, 11am to 2 pm. 

Decriminalization Rally for bill S2535 State House, Trenton, 8/27/20.

ASA Unity Conference, Washington, D.C., March 25 – 28, 2020, online only.

The Shore Grow fundraiser for Patient Aid on 9/26/20

NJ Cannabis Legalization Overview Webinar Hosted by Black Cannabis

Interviews with Dean Becker of Drug Truth Network: 1/2/20 & 1/3/20

Open Forum on Legalization of Cannabis, Atlantic City, 3/4/20.

NJCBA Webinar 4/15/20, 12 – 1 pm.

Canna Pop Up, 4/20/20, noon to 5 pm.

CannaGather Digital History & Science of Culinary & Cannabis, 5/7/20.

Cannabis and COVID-19: Where Does America Go From Here? Webinar, May 13.

ArcView Town Hall: All things New Jersey Cannabis Landscape, 16 Dec 2020 

Military Matters podcast: Episode 1: Cannabis – what are the facts, and can it be helpful?

Steven Kadonsky was released from New Jersey State Prison after 26 years of incarceration for a nonviolent marijuana offense—his first offense! See his story here: The Steven Kadonsky Story

CMMNJ testified at the NJ Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing, 11/9/20 on S21 Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, & Marketplace Modernization Act; legalizes personal use cannabis for certain adults, subject to regulation by Cannabis Regulatory Commission; removes marijuana as Schedule I drug.  

Assembly Oversight, Reform and Federal Relations Committee Hearing, 11/09/20; and the Assembly Appropriations Committee, 11/12/20 on S2535 Marijuana-provides criminal and civil justice reforms; A1897 Marijuana-decriminalizes 10 grams; 

With CMMNJ’s encouragement, advocates attended and spoke up at local council meetings and other civic meetings throughout the state in support of marijuana reform. Jim Miller went to the Toms River council and Lefty Grimes and the Ignorance is No Excuse tour went to many communities.

#JusticeforJawara: Jawara McIntosh died 7/17/20 from injuries he sustained while in Bergen County Jail on a marijuana offense. The 2017 attack left Jawara with severe brain injuries that led to his death. Jawara was in jail because he was caught with marijuana, a sacrament in his Rastafarian Religion. 

Thanksgiving Giveaway: Sativa Cross, CMMNJ, & UFCW distributed donated food, clothing and personal hygiene items to the homeless and poor of Trenton at the Trenton State House Annex on 11/26/20. 

The 17th anniversary of CMMNJ’s first public event at the White Dog CafĂ© was on 3/10/20. Cheryl Miller, the multiple sclerosis patient, early NJ medicinal marijuana activist, and wife of CMMNJ co-founder Jim Miller, died on June 7, 2003.

Thanks to CMMNJ Volunteers

On behalf of the Board of Directors of CMMNJ, I would like to thank all 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:

volunteer administrators who moderate the many discussions on Facebook’s Friends of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana-NJ;

activists who spoke out at community meetings to dispel marijuana stigmas;

activists who contacted the media and elected officials for marijuana reform;

special “Thank you” to all who contributed food, clothing, and cash to the CMMNJ & Sativa Cross Thanksgiving Food & Clothing Giveaway at the Trenton State House.

CMMNJ 2020 Board Update

Frequent Board discussions were conducted by group emails and messages as opposed to formal Board meetings during 2020. At the close of the year, the CMMNJ Board consists of the following 11 people: 

Kenneth R. Wolski, RN, Executive Director; 

James Miller; Jim Miller, Longtime Advocate, and NJ Homegrow Leader

Edward R. Hannaman, Esq., Secretary; 

Nick Mellis; 

Peter Rosenfeld; 

Larry Vargo;

Amanda Hoffman;

Jo Anne Zito; 

Philippe Dume; 

Gaetano Lardieri: Cannabis Science Leader and Advocate;

Michael Brennan; Leading Cannabis Activist, Advocate & Patient 


CMMNJ’s Honorary Board Member is Allan Marain, Esq.

Treasury Report

Treasury report: In 2020 CMMNJ had expenditures of $3,707 and income of $5,664 for a gain this year of $1,924. CMMNJ finished the year with a checking account balance of $4,938 and a PayPal account balance of $3,224 for a grand total of $8,162.

The Shore Grow fundraiser for Patient Aid on 9/26/20 raised $2275 for CMMNJ! Many thanks to Tom@ShoreGrow.com, Doug, Eva and the Shore Grow team for the most successful fund raiser in CMMNJ’s 17-year history! 

CMMNJ still has almost 50,000 all hemp wristbands and necklaces that were donated to our organization. The multicolored bands were made in Romania. The suggested price is $1 apiece.  Wholesale prices are available.

CMMNJ is grateful for the generous financial support of all who contributed to our mission. This includes those who contributed anonymously through Network for Good. Many people also generously donated their time, their professional and personal services, office space, supplies, etc. to CMMNJ.

Many thanks to the Byrne family of Ewing, NJ, who, on the untimely death of their son, Will, directed memorial contributions to CMMNJ. The Byrnes said that medical marijuana greatly improved the last year of their son’s life. Even in their grief, they reached out to help others.

CMMNJ’s 2021 Recommendations

Allow registered patients in the NJ MMP to grow a limited supply of cannabis (Home Grow Now!)

Implement a timely legalization program that brings affordable, high quality marijuana to New Jersey adults in an appropriately regulated, socially just way. See CMMNJ’s complete Adult-use Cannabis Recommendations.

CMMNJ renews its annual call for national clinical trials of marijuana.

Deschedule marijuana, both in New Jersey and nationally.

Schedule of CMMNJ 2021 meetings

Plans for 2021 are to continue with monthly Zoom meetings until further notice.

In 2020, CMMNJ held twelve free public meetings on the second Tuesday of each month from 7 - 9 PM. The meetings from January through March 2020 were held at the Lawrence Township Library in Mercer County.  (Meeting at the library does not imply the county’s endorsement of our issue.) Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the meetings from April through December were conducted via Zoom conferences.  In the past the CMMNJ Board objected to having a permanent record of meeting discussions. This was out of concerns about patient confidentiality, and patient self-incrimination when discussing use of an illegal substance. As usual, in the beginning of the Zoom meeting, participants introduced themselves and said a few words about why they were at the meeting. We advised participants that there was no way to tell if their comments were being recorded.

CMMNJ sent the agendas for these meetings via e-mail to over 1000 supporters each month and posted the agendas on Facebook, Twitter and on the CMMNJ blog

To receive the meeting agendas, sign up!  

We extend our best wishes for everyone’s safety and health during this time of pandemic, social distancing, and economic collapse. 

Follow CMMNJ

Coalition for Medical Marijuana - New Jersey: web site: http://www.cmmnj.org

Facebook: Friends of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana-NJ  

or, Coalition for Medical Marijuana - New Jersey

Twitter: @CMM_NJ

CMMNJ blog: https://cmmnj.blogspot.com/

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; kenwolski@gmail.com


January 6, 2021


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