Thursday, June 9, 2022

June14, 2022 Public Zoom Meeting Agenda

CMMNJ Monthly Meeting Agenda for June 14, 2022 at 7 pm

Join Zoom Meeting: 

Meeting ID: 851 9263 4613 

Passcode: 574487

Agenda: 

Legal, adult use sales of cannabis began in NJ on 4/21/22!. The first month of sales (4/21 – 5/21) = $24M & 212K transactions.

NJ Sen. Scutari began State House hearings May 12. CMMNJ: Testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee RE: implementation of recreational cannabis in NJ.

Ken’s 12 minute testimony starts at 1:57:10, followed by Leo Bridgewater's.

NJ Spotlight News: Medical sellers get faster into recreational weed market.

Cannabis nurses need the support of their state boards of nursing, in compliance with the NCSBN National Nursing Guidelines for Medical Marijuana.

Princeton: Council Pulls the Plug on Pot Shop Proposal

Bennabis Health To Make Medical Cannabis More Affordable

NJ Cannabis Insider 2022 Awards: Lifetime Achievement winner: Bill Caruso!

Rhode Island became the 19th state to legalize cannabis for adults, 5/25/22!

The Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) meeting 5/24, 1pm. Meeting slides. Six new medical marijuana dispensaries OK'd for recreational sales

Next CRC meeting: Thursday, June 23, 1 p.m. Register to speak here

Medical Cannabis Insurance bills:

Home cultivation bills:

  • S342/A997: Authorizes home cultivation of medical cannabis.
  • A1422: Legalizes possession of six marijuana plants for personal use.
  • A3657/S353: Legalizes six plants for personal use and 10 plants for medical.

Upcoming Events: 

NJCBA: Johnny Mac House of Spirits, Asbury Park, 6/15/22, 6 - 8 PM: Fee.

DFCR Webinar: “Cannabis and the Opioid Crisis” 6/22/22, 7 pm. Register here

Cannabis Patient Awareness Day/NJ Cannabis Cup! Trenton, 7/10/22, 11 am.

SHORE GROW Patient Aid fundraiser, 3329A Doris Ave., Ocean NJ, 8/20/22.

Recent events: 

Pennington Day, 5/21, 10 to 4 pm. 

Patients Out of Time: “The Endocannabinoid System & Beyond” June 9 – 11.

New Jersey CannaBusiness Association (NJCBA) “Lunch and Learn.” “New Jersey Cannabis History - The Patient Advocacy Path to Legalization.” 

OVERRIDE THE LEGALIZATION VETO! Rally, Dover, DE, 6/7/22.

Trentonian: Better city government possible: marijuana legalization is the key.

HGRNJ and Ken Wolski discuss Legalization of Cannabis in New Jersey, 4/21/22.

Finally, A Commercial for Legalizing Weed!

Treasury report: 

Checking: $9,835; PayPal: $45. 

Make a tax-deductible donation via PayPal to info@cmmnj.org, or send a check to: 

CMMNJ, 219 Woodside Ave., Trenton, NJ 08618.

Hemp bracelets are available for donations at all three of Curaleaf’s NJ ATC’s!

More info: 

Ken Wolski, RN, MPA (609) 394-2137 ohamkrw@aol.com 

Facebook: Friends of CMMNJ: https://www.facebook.com/groups/62462971150/

Website: Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey: https://www.cmmnj.org 

Twitter: @CMM_NJ

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

CMMNJ won the 2021 NJ Governor's Jefferson Award Volunteer Group category.


CMMNJ, a 501(c)(3) public charity, is a non-profit educational organization.


Monday, June 6, 2022

CMMNJ Urges Veto Override of Delaware’s HB 371


CMMNJ Urges Veto Override of Delaware’s HB 371

For more information, contact: Ken (609) 394-2137   

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WHO: The Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc. (CMMNJ)  

WHAT:   Urges DE legislators to override Gov. Carney’s veto of House Bill No. 371

WHERE: Delaware Legislative Hall, 411 Legislative Ave., Dover, DE 19901

WHEN: June 7, 2022 at 12 noon

WHY:       Stop treating cannabis consumers as criminals

The Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc. (CMMNJ) is disappointed that Delaware Governor John Carney vetoed HB 371, a bill to remove the penalties for simple marijuana possession. Gov. Carney said his veto was out of concern for young people, law enforcement, and his uncertainty about the long-term health and economic impacts.

HB371 does not in any way amend marijuana laws with respect to use by young people. For decades, over 80% of high school seniors told Monitoring the Future that marijuana was “easy to get,” or “fairly easy to get.” When marijuana is legalized for medical or adult use, there has not been any significant rise in use by adolescents.

Adult use marijuana laws are not associated with an uptick in overall criminal activity. Recreational marijuana use is NOT a gateway to harder drug use, crime, or increased DUI’s. Even the DEA no longer believes in the Gateway myth (Federal Register, 7/8/11).

Medical patients use cannabis because it improves their quality of life, and it can do that long term. There are multiple economic benefits to improved long-term health. Currently, 19 states and Washington D.C. are beginning to reap the rewards of legalization.

“Cannabis legalization is the best way to get this essential medicine to the most people,” said Ken Wolski, RN, Executive Director of CMMNJ. “The therapeutic benefits of cannabis are enormous. Cannabis can help with a host of physical, mental, and emotional problems, many that may be undiagnosed, or misdiagnosed in people.”

CMMNJ urges Delaware legislators to override the veto and pass HB 371 into law. "Meanwhile, Delawareans are invited to use our New Jersey beaches and legal recreational cannabis until they can override the governor's veto," said CMMNJ Board Member Peter Rosenfeld..

Ken Wolski, RN, MPA 
Executive Director, Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc. www.cmmnj.org
219 Woodside Ave., Trenton, NJ 08618 
(609) 394-2137 ohamkrw@aol.com 

CMMNJ, founded in 2003, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization. 


Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee Concerning the implementation of recreational cannabis in New Jersey

Testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee
Concerning the implementation of recreational cannabis in New Jersey 
May 12, 2022

Chairman Senator Brian P. Stack, Vice Chair Senator Nellie Pou and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I want to thank you for the opportunity to address this committee concerning the implementation of recreational cannabis in New Jersey. My name is Ken Wolski, and I’m executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana—New Jersey, Inc. (CMMNJ).

I would like to congratulate the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) for the mission that it has taken on, and the progress it has made, in creating this new cannabis industry with social justice at its core and dedicated to rebuilding individuals and communities that have been devastated by the decades-long War on Drugs. The CRC is doing all this while managing the Medicinal Cannabis Program (MCP).

I’ve worked in New Jersey state government for 25 years, so I am aware of some of the challenges that the CRC faces. I earned my Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from Rutgers University in 1992, so I was not only working for the state, but I was studying it at the same time. I know the bureaucracy is not meant to be speedy. It has other priorities. It is a remarkable accomplishment for the CRC to begin adult use sales of cannabis just a little over one year since Governor Murphy signed the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act (CREAMMA) into law. It took nearly three full years before medical marijuana began to be distributed (December 2012) in the state after Governor Corzine signed the bill into law in January 2010.

Cannabis reform is continuing in this state at a safe and reasonable pace, and that means a great deal to me and to all the people in New Jersey. Of course, so many people are impatient to have this industry fully implemented, and to have additional reforms implemented. But, speaking as one who has been an advocate for cannabis reform for over 50 years, I know that these things take time. I am only glad that I lived to see legal sales of cannabis to adults in my home state in my lifetime.

Since adult use sales began, CMMNJ Board members have been meeting weekly with the New Jersey Cannabis Trade Association (NJCTA) to identify and remediate any problems concerning patient access to medical cannabis. The Friends of CMMNJ Facebook page has over 3000 members who act as a support group for cannabis patients. We are happy to report that there have only been minor issues with patient access since recreational sales began at the ATCs. Access for medical patients has improved so far what with newly instituted measures such as online ordering and curbside pickup, dedicated parking and points of service for medical patients, dedicated hours for medical patients and nearly half the ATCs still only serving patients, and the threat of fines for ATCs if medical access is adversely affected by adult use sales.

Some patients have complained that ATCs raised prices when adult use sales began. We were not able to determine if these were appropriate price increases. The ATCs are only permitted to raise prices one time a month, but the price list is not publicly available.

Other patients complained that specific strains of cannabis were not available. However, this is an issue that is not new since ATCs have been running out of specific strains and discontinuing strains that patients have found helpful almost since the program began.

Finally, there were issues with Home Delivery of medical cannabis. This service was approved by the “Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act" in 2019 and finally implemented by some of the ATCs on April 21, 2022. Some patients complained of delivery problems. In one case, a patient said that the ATC she called would not deliver to patients living in her zip code, even though she only lived about 20 minutes away from the ATC. Several dedicated cannabis home delivery services have expressed interest in working in New Jersey and perhaps the CRC should revisit their proposals to supplement the ATC delivery services.

CMMNJ and NJCTA plan to continue to monitor the situation. 

I agree with Senator Scutari that these oversight hearings are needed to “determine what can be done to reduce the costs of medical marijuana. Affordability and availability must be priorities for medical consumers who rely on cannabis for health reasons.”

Two of the most important measures to meet these goals are insurance coverage for medical cannabis and home cultivation for registered patients in the state’s MCP. These measures have nothing to do with the CRC but require actions by the Legislature and Governor.

Insurance coverage for medical cannabis will have profoundly positive effects. It will greatly increase the number of patients who can use this therapeutic modality, it will lower healthcare costs in the state, and it will produce a healthier New Jersey.

New Jersey has some of the most expensive medical cannabis in the country, with an ounce of premium buds costing over $400. This makes the medical benefits of cannabis unavailable to many residents who have been impoverished by their illnesses or injuries. With medical cannabis insurance coverage, the poverty stricken in New Jersey can also have access to the therapeutic benefits of cannabis.

Cannabis stabilizes multiple conditions in individuals. Greater access to cannabis therapy will result in fewer emergency room visits, fewer hospitalizations, and fewer surgical procedures. A study released in February 2020 showed a 6.7% decline in workers compensation claim activity where states have approved medical marijuana.

Fears of the federal government’s involvement in this issue are unfounded. Congress has forbidden the Department of Justice to interfere with state medical marijuana laws. I was pleased to see that S313 passed unanimously out of the Senate Health Committee on 3/10/2022 and was referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. Hopefully, this bill will be soon signed into law so that more state residents here can enjoy the multiple benefits of cannabis therapy. 

Home Cultivation is needed for three reasons:

1) Cost - the cost of medical marijuana exceeds half the income of 50% of disability patients; 

2) Consistent supply - many patients need specific strains for their conditions, but the dispensaries often drop production of the most effective strains; and,

3) Empowerment - allowing patients to grow their own medicine lets them take control of their disease or medical condition. 

Home cultivation puts patients at the center of healthcare—not the pharmaceutical industry or the health insurance industry.

With home cultivation limits of 6 plants per patient and 12 plants per household (the standard for many legalized states) there is no real room for diversion, and it would have no significant effect on the legal market. Of the 18 states (and Washington, D.C.) to legalize marijuana, New Jersey is the only one that still prohibits its medical cannabis patients from growing cannabis at home. This must, and will change.

CMMNJ Board Member Peter Rosenfeld has even drawn up sample regulations to enact a home cultivation law for patients that is available at the CMMNJ blogsite here.

Additional measures that the CRC can do, and should do, involve fully implementing the “Jake Honig” law, which was signed by Governor Murphy almost three years ago, in July 2019, and went into effect immediately. These measures include adopting educational programs on the Endocannabinoid System and Dosing and Administration guidelines.

Adopting and promulgating these guidelines to the cannabis consuming community and to the healthcare community will increase the safety and appropriate use of cannabis products. The Jake Honig law says: 

     “g.    The (CRC) shall establish, by regulation, curricula for health care practitioners…:

     (1)   The curriculum…shall be designed to assist practitioners in counseling patients with regard to the quantity, dosing, and administration of medical cannabis as shall be appropriate to treat the patient’s qualifying medical condition.  Health care practitioners shall complete the curriculum as a condition of authorizing patients for the medical use of cannabis.”

The New Jersey Department of Health’s Executive Order 6 Report on 3/23/2018 agrees and outlines how these programs and guidelines should be developed: 

DEVELOPMENT OF PROVIDER EDUCATION PROGRAM AND DOSING GUIDELINES With the expansion of authorized debilitating conditions, the Department recognizes the need to provide education and guidance to providers. To that end, the Department is exploring the creation of an education program for all physicians, with focus on the endocannabinoid system. The Department plans to leverage the expertise of the Medicinal Marijuana Review Panel to oversee the curriculum development for this program. This education program will serve to create best practices for the safe and effective administration of medicinal marijuana to the expanded universe of qualifying patients. In conjunction with the provider education program, there is also a need to develop standardized dosing and administrative protocols for medicinal marijuana products, including information on expected effects, side effects, and adverse effects. In addition to the provider education component above, the Department will charge the Medicinal Marijuana Review Panel, in an advisory role, to oversee the study of the efficacy of medicinal marijuana in treating New Jersey Medicinal Marijuana Program patients. This research will inform dosing and administration protocols to create best practices and improve health outcomes for qualifying patients. The Department believes that this refocusing of the Medicinal Marijuana Review Panel will make the best use of the expertise that the Panel provides to create best practices to inform health care providers and improve health outcomes for qualifying patients. https://www.state.nj.us/health/medicalmarijuana/documents/EO6Report_Final.pdf

These educational programs and dosing guidelines will make health care providers more likely to recommend medical cannabis for their patients. Moreover, they are readily available. For example, a company called “Cannabis Expertise” offers 2-hour and 4-hour Medical Cannabis educational courses with nationally accredited AMA credits. These modules were the basis for healthcare professionals to be certified as recommenders in the states of Ohio and Pennsylvania. The organization trained healthcare professionals from 38 states and 9 countries. The dosing recommendations in the training have been developed by physicians who kept track of every patient’s profile and reaction to cannabis.

Marijuana is mainstream medicine. The Medical Cannabis program in New Jersey is expanding rapidly, and the adult use industry is now exposing ever more residents to the therapeutic benefits of cannabis. As more and more people experience these benefits, health care professionals in the state must become comfortable incorporating cannabis use into the therapeutic regimens of their patients. This can be done most efficiently by requiring education on the Endocannabinoid System for all health care professionals in the state of New Jersey as a condition for continued licensure in the state.

The Jake Honig Act also called for “Institutional caregivers” in the state. These caregivers are employees of a health care facility who are authorized to assist registered qualifying patients, who are patients or residents of the facility, with the medical use of cannabis, including obtaining medical cannabis and assisting these patients with the administration of medical cannabis. Currently, most health care facilities forbid the use of medical cannabis in the facility. This is a dangerous and potentially fatal situation. A patient who suffers from seizures may be admitted to a health care facility and then denied access to the only medicine that controls their seizures--medical cannabis. I was part of a team that tried unsuccessfully to save a patient in Status Epilepticus, an unrelenting seizure condition, at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital when I worked there in the early 1970’s. It was a tragic experience that I have never forgotten. It should never happen again. But sadly, simply being admitted to a hospital is currently one of the leading causes of death in America. “Research estimates up to 440,000 Americans are dying annually from preventable hospital errors. This puts medical errors as the third leading cause of death in the United States, underscoring the need for patients to protect themselves and their families from harm.” Denial of essential medicinal cannabis in hospitals may well be a contributing factor to this dreadful statistic.

In addition to the expanding medical cannabis program and the anticipated increase in cannabis users through the adult use program, it is my sincere hope that the state will recognize its responsibility to the institutionalized patients in New Jersey. For 25 years, I have worked as a registered nurse (RN) in the state prison system and at a state psychiatric hospital. I know that many patients in these institutions qualify for medical cannabis and could benefit greatly from it. The staff there is already trained to administer, account for, and evaluate the effect of controlled substances. There is no reason to withhold this important medical therapy from these patients. In fact, courts have determined that inmates are entitled to “community standards” of healthcare. Edible medical cannabis products will improve health care in state institutions, group homes, hospices, etc., and will reduce the costs of running these programs.

In March 2022, I urged the CRC to greatly expand the conditions that qualify for medicinal cannabis. I said the CRC should allow anyone with prescriptive privileges in New Jersey, and an office in New Jersey, to recommend cannabis therapy for ANY condition that the prescriber feels may be helped by medical cannabis.

The CRC should leave this issue up to the physician, the Advanced Practice Nurse, or the Physician’s Assistant to act in the best interest of the patient.

The state of New Jersey has already approved numerous medical conditions as qualifying for cannabis therapy. Therefore, cannabis should be allowed to be recommended “off label” for any other condition, as is the case with prescription pharmaceuticals. Once a drug is approved for use by the FDA, that drug may be used “off label” for other conditions by prescribers.

Finally, my sister-in-law’s dentist just asked her how he could recommend cannabis for his patients who are undergoing dental surgery. I told her she had to tell him that dentists are not yet permitted to recommend medical cannabis in New Jersey, even though they can order opioids for their patients.

Obviously, a great deal of work still needs to be done.

Thank 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


Attachments (3): 

Resume of Ken Wolski, RN
“Medical marijuana should be covered by health insurance.” K. Wolski, 2021.
“Study links lower comp frequency to medical marijuana laws,” Louise Esola, Feb. 10, 2020
Hospital Errors: 
https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/study_suggests_medical_errors_now_third_leading_cause_of_death_in_the_us
“It’s time for N.J. to fully embrace medical marijuana.” K. Wolski, 2016


The Coalition for Medical Marijuana—New Jersey, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization whose mission is to educate the public about medical marijuana. 


Tuesday, May 3, 2022

CMMNJ Monthly Meeting Agenda for May 10, 2022


CMMNJ Monthly Meeting Agenda for May 10, 2022 at 7 pm

Join Zoom Meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81832808089?pwd=eWsrR2lVOVFtQUJzSVhCYlh5Y1JUUT09

Meeting ID: 818 3280 8089 

Passcode: 753213

Agenda: 

Legal, adult use sales of cannabis began in NJ on 4/21/22! 

The first day of retail sales was ‘robust’ (12,400 people spent $1.9 M) and ‘trouble-free,’ regulators say

NEWSY TV: Morning Rush: “New Jersey Begins Recreational Pot Sales” Seven minute interview with Ken Wolski, 4/21/22: “It's been just a little over a year (since the governor signed the legalization bill) for adult use sales to start. That's working at the speed of light for state government.”

Happy Rec Day! CMMNJ and the New Jersey Cannabis Trade Association will meet weekly to discuss patient concerns. “A successful rollout will pave the way for home cultivation,” said Wolski. “This is a great step forward for marijuana reform, which is decades overdue as far as I am concerned,” he said. Is Pennsylvania next?

NJ Senate President Nicholas P. Scutari will begin State House hearings on May 12 at 1 pm: “Affordability and availability must be priorities for medical consumers who rely on cannabis for health reasons,” Scutari said.

The Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC):

The CRC meeting on April 11 explained the start of adult use sales, while protecting patient access: (The next CRC meeting will be on 5/24, 1pm.) 

Recommendation on Alternative Treatment Center Expansions

Recommendation on Conditional License Applications

April 11, 2022 Meeting Slides and Submitted Written Comments

Off-duty police officers in NJ are permitted to consume cannabis products according to state Attorney General Matthew Platkin. Some disagree

Medical Cannabis Insurance bills:

S313: Costs of medical cannabis to be reimbursed by Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund, PAAD, Senior Gold and VCCO.

S309: Requires workers' compensation, PIP, and health insurance coverage for the medical use of cannabis under certain circumstances.

S782: Establishes program to subsidize price of medical cannabis for registered patients enrolled in Medicaid or NJ Family Care programs.

Home cultivation bills:

S342/A997: Authorizes home cultivation of medical cannabis.

A1422: Legalizes possession of six or fewer marijuana plants, subject to enactment of legislation legalizing marijuana or cannabis for personal use.

A3657/S353: Legalizes growing up to six marijuana plants for personal use, and up to 10 plants for medical use, by persons aged 21 or older.

Events:

New Jersey CannaBusiness Association (NJCBA) “Lunch and Learn.” Ken Wolski and Edmund DeVeaux talk about “New Jersey Cannabis History - The Patient Advocacy Path to Legalization” on 5/27/22 at noon. Free. Register here

420NJ Events formed Minority Cannabis Academy, which is meant to provide professional development for those impacted by the War on Drugs. 

Cannabis Nurses Network, Inspiring the Future of Nursing, 5/7, 12 – 3pm, free.

Volunteers needed for CMMNJ’s booth at Pennington Day, 5/21, 10 to 4 pm. 

Patients Out of Time: “The Endocannabinoid System and Beyond” Kansas City, June 9 – 11.

Treasury report: 

Checking: $9,585; PayPal: $45. 

Make a tax-deductible donation via PayPal to info@cmmnj.org, or send a check to: 

CMMNJ, 219 Woodside Ave., Trenton, NJ 08618.

Hemp bracelets are available for donations at all three of Curaleaf’s NJ ATC’s!

More info: 

Ken Wolski, RN, MPA (609) 394-2137 ohamkrw@aol.com 

Facebook: Friends of CMMNJ: https://www.facebook.com/groups/62462971150/

Website: Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey: https://www.cmmnj.org 

Twitter: @CMM_NJ

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

CMMNJ is a proud winner of the 2021 NJ State Governor's Jefferson Award in the Volunteer Group category.

CMMNJ, a 501(c)(3) public charity, is a non-profit educational organization.


Wednesday, April 6, 2022

CMMNJ Monthly Meeting Agenda for April 12, 2022


CMMNJ Monthly Meeting Agenda for April 12, 2022 at 7 pm

Join Zoom Meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83077209125?pwd=ZmpRaUd4blRickxJODZVMDNqbEhadz09

Meeting ID: 830 7720 9125

Passcode: 058904

Agenda: 

The ’22-‘23 NJ Legislative Session started on 1/11/22. These lawmakers will deal with cannabis bills: Senate Chamber Seating and Assembly Chamber Seating.

Senate Health Committee unanimously passed Medical Cannabis Insurance bill S313 at its hearing on 3/10/22: Costs of medical cannabis to be reimbursed by Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund, PAAD, Senior Gold and VCCO. CMMNJ Testimony in Support of S313

Other Medical Cannabis Insurance bills:

  • S309: Requires workers' compensation, PIP, and health insurance coverage for the medical use of cannabis under certain circumstances.
  • S782: Establishes program to subsidize price of medical cannabis for registered patients enrolled in Medicaid or NJ Family Care programs.
  • A389: Creates protections for insurers and insurance producers engaging in business of insurance in connection with cannabis-related businesses.

Bennabis Health offers a membership plan to Medicinal Marijuana Patients in NJ. For an introductory fee of $120 per year, members receive a 15% discount on medical cannabis at Network Dispensaries!

The Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) on March 15 began accepting applications from those who wish to open dispensaries to sell marijuana to anyone over 21. By 4 p.m., 172 applications had been filed. On March 24 the CRC approved 68 conditional licenses for recreational growers and manufacturers, but tabled a vote on allowing existing ATCs to begin selling marijuana to recreational customers. Sen. Nick Scutari called for hearings into NJ legal weed delays.

The CRC will hold a special meeting on April 11, at 1 p.m. where they will consider certifications for expanded ATCs. More info. Delays not unusual?

Emerging Social Equity Concerns in New Jersey.

Testimony to the NJ CRC by: Ken Wolski, RN, March 24, 2022, (oral testimony at 1:40:03) on: 

1. Medical conditions that should be added to the Medicinal Cannabis Program
2. Patient education/counseling needs
3. Medicinal product expiration dates

The U.S. House of Representatives voted to federally legalize marijuana (the MORE Act). The vote (220-204) fell along party lines with only three Republicans supporting the measure and two Democrats opposing it. The bill heads to the Senate, where Majority Leader Schumer (D-NY) will file his own cannabis bill.

The U.S. Senate voted to expand research into cannabis to see if there are any medical benefit…Marijuana could be a way to combat the opioid epidemic.  

Workplace: In Hunt v. Matthews plaintiff alleges that the employer refused to hire him after a pre-employment drug screen had a positive THC result and he disclosed his status as a licensed medical marijuana patient.

“Cannabis workers will be pursuing union representation not only in NJ, but around the nation:” Hugh Giordano, UFCW Local 360.

Home cultivation bills:

  • S342/A997: Authorizes home cultivation of medical cannabis.
  • A1422: Legalizes possession of six or fewer marijuana plants, subject to enactment of legislation legalizing marijuana for personal use.
  • A3657/S353: Legalizes growing up to six marijuana plants for personal use, and up to 10 plants for medical use, by persons aged 21 or older.

Stockton U. Cannabis Job Fair and Business Expo

Growing Equity: Healing from Prohibition in Princeton, Chris Goldstein

New Jersey CannaBusiness Association (NJCBA) Lunch and Learn 4/1/22, Michael Turner provided a Policy Update. NJCBA Lunch and Learn Playlist.

Trenton, NJ State House Demonstration with Sativa Cross, April 20, 2022, 11 am.

Treasury report: 

Checking: $9,395; PayPal: $31. 

Make a tax-deductible donation via PayPal to info@cmmnj.org, or send a check to: 

CMMNJ, 219 Woodside Ave., Trenton, NJ 08618.

Many thanks to Curaleaf! They have the CMMNJ hemp bracelets available for patrons to purchase at all three of their NJ dispensaries—Bellmawr, Bordentown and Edgewater Park!

Thanks to Board member Michael Brennan for his CMMNJ birthday fundraiser

More info: 

Ken Wolski, RN, MPA (609) 394-2137 ohamkrw@aol.com 
Facebook: Friends of CMMNJ: https://www.facebook.com/groups/62462971150/
Website: Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey: https://www.cmmnj.org 
Twitter: @CMM_NJ
CMMNJ blog: https://cmmnj.blogspot.com/

CMMNJ is a proud winner of the 2021 NJ State Governor's Jefferson Award in the Volunteer Group category.

CMMNJ, a 501(c)(3) public charity, is a non-profit educational organization.


Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Senate Health Committee Testimony in Support of S313: insurance coverage for medical marijuana


Testimony to the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee

In support of S313: Authorizes insurance coverage for medical marijuana

March 10, 2022

Insurance coverage for medical cannabis will have profoundly positive effects. It will greatly increase the number of patients who can use this therapeutic modality, it will lower healthcare costs in the state, and it will produce a healthier New Jersey.

New Jersey has some of the most expensive medical cannabis in the country, with an ounce of premium buds costing between $400-$500. This makes the medical benefits of cannabis unavailable to many residents who have been impoverished by their illnesses or injuries. We urge New Jersey legislators to pass S313, so that the poor can also have access to the therapeutic benefits of cannabis.

When passed into law, this bill will reduce healthcare costs in the state. Cannabis stabilizes multiple conditions in individuals. Greater access to cannabis therapy will result in fewer emergency room visits, fewer hospitalizations, and fewer surgical procedures. A study released in February 2020 showed a 6.7% decline in workers compensation claim activity where states have approved medical marijuana.

Fears of the federal government’s involvement in this issue are unfounded. Congress has forbidden the Department of Justice to interfere with state medical marijuana laws. Please pass S313 into law so that more state residents here can enjoy the multiple benefits of cannabis therapy. Thank 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

Attachments (3): Resume of Ken Wolski, RN

“Medical marijuana should be covered by health insurance. What’s the hold up?” K. Wolski, 2021.

“Study links lower comp frequency to medical marijuana laws,” Louise Esola, Feb. 10, 2020


The Coalition for Medical Marijuana—New Jersey, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization whose mission is to educate the public about medical marijuana. 


Friday, April 1, 2022

CRC Testimony March 24, 2022


Testimony to the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission

By: Ken Wolski, RN, MPA

Executive Director, Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc.

March 24, 2022

I appreciate the opportunity to make public comments on: 

1. Medical conditions that should be considered for the Medicinal Cannabis Program

2. Patient education/counseling needs

3. Medicinal product expiration dates


Medical conditions that should be considered for the Medicinal Cannabis Program

I urge the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) to allow anyone with prescriptive privileges in New Jersey, and an office in New Jersey, to recommend cannabis therapy for ANY condition that the prescriber feels may be helped by medical cannabis.

Leave this issue up to the physician, the Advanced Practice Nurse, or the Physician’s Assistant to act in the best interest of the patient.

The state of New Jersey has already approved numerous medical conditions as qualifying for cannabis therapy. Therefore, cannabis should be allowed to be recommended “off label” for any other condition, as is the case with prescription pharmaceuticals. Once a drug is approved for use by the FDA, that drug may be used “off label” for other conditions by prescribers.

Adding individual conditions to the Medicinal Cannabis Program is time-consuming and inefficient. The Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (CUMMA) passed into law in January 2010 with very limited conditions that qualified for marijuana therapy. It wasn't until September 2016—over six years later--that the first additional condition was added. This was done by the New Jersey Legislature, after the DOH refused to act on CMMNJ’s request. That condition was post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD was added after a vigorous campaign by the Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey and local veterans. 

It wasn't until October of 2017--nearly eight full years after CUMMA passed into law--that 43 additional petitions were approved for cannabis therapy.

Also, consider the case of Rare and Orphan diseases. A Rare disease is one that affects fewer than 200,000 Americans. An Orphan disease is one whose treatment is not considered profitable by the pharmaceutical industry to develop. There are over 7,000 Rare and Orphan diseases that affect between 25 million and 30 million Americans. In New Jersey, somewhere between 500,000 and 900,000 residents suffer from Rare and Orphan diseases. These diseases often cause great difficulty in proper diagnosis and treatment. Over 95% of Rare disease patients lack FDA approved treatment. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and Tourette Syndrome are two of these diseases, and they both qualify for marijuana therapy in New Jersey, but the latter took nearly eight years to qualify.

Around 2009, a woman called me and told me her son suffered from one of these Rare diseases called Friedreich's ataxia, a neurological condition that, among other things, affected his ability to walk. The woman told me her son was helped tremendously by medical marijuana, but at the time she risked arrest and imprisonment for giving her son this treatment. Friedreich's ataxia is still not a qualifying condition for marijuana therapy in New Jersey. 

The discovery of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) about 25 years ago provides the scientific basis for how cannabis can help with so many diseases, symptoms, and medical conditions. The ECS consists partly of a series of receptors throughout the entire human body for the components of marijuana--the cannabinoids. Our own body produces substances—endocannabinoids--that are identical to phytocannabinoids, or the cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. The purpose of the ECS is to restore homeostasis, or balance, to the mind and body. Medical cannabis can help where there is a deficiency in the production of the natural endocannabinoids. ECS researchers say that this system may play a role in all disease processes.

New Jersey needs to stop taking baby steps with cannabis therapy. It must begin taking robust measures. Allowing for any condition that a prescriber recommends is the appropriate way to proceed with additional qualifying conditions.

However, it really doesn't matter what condition qualifies for cannabis therapy if a patient cannot get it because of their living situation.

Three days ago I received a phone call from a woman who told me about her 90-year-old father who is living in an assisted living facility in central New Jersey. 

This woman’s father suffers from chronic pain, and he is on opiates and cortisone injections. Her father's doctor recommended medical marijuana for him. So, the daughter got a caregiver card from the state’s Medicinal Cannabis Program and went to an Alternative Treatment Center. She spent $400 to purchase medical cannabis oil for her father. But the assisted living facility staff told her that she could not even bring the medical cannabis into the facility, let alone give it to her father. The director of the facility said their lawyers told him they could not have medical marijuana in their facility because they receive federal funds, and this would place those funds in jeopardy. 

This patient, and many patients like him, continue to suffer needlessly by being deprived of the appropriate physician-recommended medicine due to fears that the federal government will interfere with this state's medical marijuana program.

However, Congress has forbidden the Department of Justice to spend any money interfering with medical marijuana programs in any of the over three dozen such programs in the United States. The US Attorney General affirmed that they will not do so, and there has not been a single instance of this happening in recent years in any of the states with medical marijuana programs.

The CRC needs to reassure all facilities that house medical marijuana patients, and that receive federal funds, that they are not at risk of federal interference with New Jersey’s medical marijuana program.

The 2019 “Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act" called for immediate implementation of “Institutional caregivers” in the state. These caregivers are employees of a health care facility who are authorized to assist registered qualifying patients, who are patients or residents of the facility, with the medical use of cannabis, including obtaining medical cannabis and assisting these patients with the administration of medical cannabis. 

Currently, most health care facilities forbid the use of medical cannabis in the facility. This is a dangerous and potentially fatal situation. A patient who suffers from seizures may be admitted to a health care facility for a condition that is unrelated to the seizure condition. Then, when the patient is denied access to the only medicine that controls their seizures--medical cannabis—the result can be fatal.

It is my sincere hope that the state will recognize its responsibility to the institutionalized patients in New Jersey. For 25 years, I have worked as a registered nurse (RN) in state institutions. I know that many patients in these institutions qualify for medical cannabis and could benefit greatly from it. The staff there is trained to administer, account for, and evaluate the effect of controlled substances. There is no reason to withhold this important medical therapy from these patients. 

In fact, courts have determined that inmates in New Jersey’s prison system are entitled to “community standards” of healthcare. Edible and topical medical cannabis products will improve health care in state institutions, group homes, hospices, etc., and will reduce the costs of running these programs.


Patient education/counseling needs

The best way to ensure the appropriate education and counseling of medical cannabis patient in New Jersey is to ensure that the educators and counselors are themselves appropriately educated and trained. 

As I testified at a previous CRC meeting: 

The CRC should quickly adopt cannabis Dosing and Administration guidelines and educational programs on the Endocannabinoid System. The CRC must promulgate these guidelines and programs to the cannabis consuming community and to the healthcare community to increase the safety and appropriate use of cannabis products. 

In fact, the Jake Honig Act required these guidelines, but they have yet to be adopted in New Jersey: 

     “g.    The commission shall establish, by regulation, curricula for health care practitioners…:

     (1)   The curriculum for health care practitioners shall be designed to assist practitioners in counseling patients with regard to the quantity, dosing, and administration of medical cannabis as shall be appropriate to treat the patient’s qualifying medical condition.  Health care practitioners shall complete the curriculum as a condition of authorizing patients for the medical use of cannabis.”

Educational programs on the Endocannabinoid System for medical providers in New Jersey, now including physicians, Advanced Practice Nurses, and Physician Assistants, are required. Dosing and Administration guidelines and Endocannabinoid educational programs are readily available. 

For example, a company called “Cannabis Expertise” offers 2-hour and 4-hour Medical Cannabis educational courses with nationally accredited AMA credits. These modules were the basis for healthcare professionals to be certified as recommenders in the states of Ohio and Pennsylvania. The organization trained healthcare professionals from 38 states and 9 countries. The dosing recommendations have been developed by physicians who kept track of every patient’s profile and reaction to cannabis.

The New Jersey Department of Health’s Executive Order 6 Report on 3/23/2018: 

The Department recognizes the need to provide education and guidance to providers. To that end, the Department is exploring the creation of an education program for all physicians, with focus on the endocannabinoid system. The Department plans to leverage the expertise of the Medicinal Marijuana Review Panel to oversee the curriculum development for this program. This education program will serve to create best practices for the safe and effective administration of medicinal marijuana to the expanded universe of qualifying patients. In conjunction with the provider education program, there is also a need to develop standardized dosing and administrative protocols for medicinal marijuana products, including information on expected effects, side effects, and adverse effects. 

Marijuana is mainstream medicine. The Medical Cannabis program in New Jersey is expanding rapidly, and the adult use industry will soon expose even more residents to the therapeutic benefits of cannabis. As more and more people experience these benefits, health care professionals in the state must become comfortable incorporating cannabis use into the therapeutic regimens of their patients. This can be done most efficiently by requiring education on the ECS for all health care professionals in the state of New Jersey as a condition for continued licensure in the state.


Medicinal product expiration dates

I previously testified to the CRC on information that consumers and patients should be aware of when purchasing edible cannabis items, including: 

Warning that the package contains cannabis; 

Total dosage of THC per package; 

Strength of THC per unit dosage; 

Expiration date and storage recommendations; and,

Special dietary contents if included (e.g., sugar-free, vegan, hypoallergenic).

Regarding expiration dates, proper processing and proper storage of cannabis products appear to be the most important thing in prolonging shelf life. This will ensure potency of medical cannabis products for a year or more.

Proper processing and drying of the product in the first place is essential in prolonging shelf life. 

Marijuana in the form of dried flower does not expire. Unlike food or prescription medication, there is no date in which this form of marijuana will be hazardous to consume. However, the potency and effects can change over time.

Here are some tips for proper cannabis storage:

Do’s:

Store marijuana flower in an airtight container

Keep marijuana in a cool location

Protect your marijuana from any exposure to light

Use your edibles by their use-by date

Dont's:

Store marijuana in a freezer or refrigerator

Leave marijuana outside of a storage container

Leave in an open container

Store marijuana in a hot location

Proper processing and storage of cannabis products appears to be more important than an arbitrary expiration date. Perhaps the “Best If Used By” date is more appropriate.

Edibles, on the other hand, can go bad the same way that food does. Because edibles are food products that are infused with cannabis, it is best to pay attention to the expiration date and consume accordingly. 

As for products such as vape pens, cartridges, or tinctures, it is recommended that you use them within one year of purchase. 

While FDA standards for other botanicals exist, the FDA is silent on the issue of expiration dates for medical cannabis.

Thank you again for the opportunity to address the CRC. And again, I want to thank the CRC for the mission that it has taken on, to create this new cannabis industry with social justice at its core and dedicated to repairing the damage that has been done to individuals and communities by the War on Drugs. I want to acknowledge the progress you have made in fulfilling this mission and note that you are doing all this while managing the Medical Cannabis Program. Well done, CRC!


Ken Wolski, RN, MPA

Executive Director, Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc.

219 Woodside Ave., Trenton, NJ 08618

609.394.2137 

www.cmmnj.org 

http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/

March 24, 2022


E.O. #6: https://www.state.nj.us/health/medicalmarijuana/documents/EO6Report_Final.pdf

Ohio Exp. Dates: https://www.ohiomarijuanacard.com/post/can-marijuana-go-bad-proper-storage-tips-for-medical-marijuana

DFCR THC symbol: https://www.dfcr.org/universal-cannabis-symbol

Cannabis Expertise: https://cannabisexpertise.com/