TRENTON, NJ — Both chambers of the New Jersey legislature voted Monday to enact a bill establishing industrial hemp cultivation licenses in the state.
The bill, Senate Bill 3110, was approved unanimously in the Senate on Monday by a 37-0 vote, followed in the Assembly by a vote of 65-8. The bill now heads to the desk of Governor Chris Christie for final approval.
Under the bill, the Secretary of Agriculture can begin issuing licences for the legal cultivation of industrial hemp, but not until the United States government takes action to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act, unless the Drug Enforcement Administration grants New Jersey a permit allowing hemp cultivation in the state.
The bill provides specific application procedures and requirements, including fingerprinting and criminal background checks for industrial hemp license applicants.
Hemp is a distinct variety of the plant species cannabis sativa that contains only trace (less than one percent) amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis.
Farmers worldwide grow hemp commercially for fiber, seed, and oil for use in a variety of industrial and consumer products, including food and clothing. The United States is the only developed nation that fails to cultivate industrial hemp as an economic crop, according to the Congressional Resource Service.
Over thirty countries produce industrial hemp, including Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey and Ukraine.
The United States is the only developed nation that fails to cultivate industrial hemp as an economic crop, according to the Congressional Resource Service.
TRENTON — The Scotch Plains family whosefight to get medical marijuana for their toddler has drawn national attention, received a $10,000 donation on Christmas to help them relocate to Colorado.
The donation to the Wilson Family of $5,000 each came from MagicalButter.com, a Washington state company that manufactures cannabis-infused edible products and the machine that extracts the plant's active ingredients, and Lisa and Drew Braun, friends of the company's CEO, Garyn Angel said.
Angel and his friends made a YouTube video informing them about the donation, and enlisted a Wilson family friend to pay them a visit Christmas Day and videotape their reaction. Both are seen crying and laughing.
"How's that for a little stress relief?" Brian Wilson asked his wife, Meghan.
Brian Wilson said they are overwhelmed by the generous gift that will enable them and their two daughters in early 2014 to move to Colorado, where an edible form of marijuana is manufactured and has helped relieve the seizures in children with serious epilepsy disorders.
Their youngest daughter Vivian, 2 years old, has from Dravet syndrome, a potentially deadly form of epilepsy that traditional medicine has been able to control. They also have a daughter, Adele, who is 4.
"The contribution will relieve a lot of the financial stress this move was going to place on us," said Brian Wilson, who lamented that the Christie administration's rigid medical marijuana program is unable to help them yet.
"Christie's policies are forcing us to flee the state and become medical refugees at a great personal expense. Through their great generosity, MagicalButter and the Braun family are relieving us of most of the financial hardship that comes with a forced move."
After Wilson confronted Gov. Chris Christie at a campaign stop pleading to not let his daughter die, the governor signed a law that allowed growers to manufacture edible products for children and expand the number of strains that may be grown. But growers and the Christie administration are months away at least from producing and testing an edible product to replicate the kinds of successes seen out west.
A new bill is pending to require New Jersey recognize other state medical marijuana programs, in order to help families use products here grown elsewhere, but Christie has said he will not consider future expansions of the law, fearing it is just a step toward legalization.
"In true New Jersey fashion, Christie has made Vivian Wilson 'born to run,' " said Wilson, referencing the signature song by the governor's favorite performer, Bruce Springsteen.
Angel said he created the company last year and has tens of thousands of customers, who are mostly middle-aged to elderly and have from Crohn's disease. A machine he invented breaks down the plant and extracts an active ingredient, cannabidiol, that is showing success in reducing the severity and frequency of seizures.
Angel said he learned about the family's plight on the web, donated his extraction machine, and decided to visit about three weeks ago. He doesn't have any child customers yet.
"They are trying to do everything on their own, but we wanted to help," said Angel, whose friends from Tampa, Lisa and Drew Braun, contributed to the Wilsons despite having never met them.
"The world is pulling for you guys," Angel tells the Wilsons on the video.
On Oct. 7, 2003, the US government issued Patent No. 6,630,507.
Actor Michael J. Fox and many millions of other Americans — my dear late wife, Tricia, included — could have gotten very excited about this development back then.
But it was, apparently, not the sort of thing Washington wanted advertised.
Patent No. 6,630,507, you see, is for cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants. Most people would simply refer to this as medical marijuana.
Who got that patent? The US government gave this patent to itself.
Just so you understand me, this is the same US government that has been fighting the use of marijuana as a drug. Yet its own scientists were claiming a decade ago that marijuana had been effective against a number of diseases.
Here’s what three scientists from the Department of Health and Human Services said in the abstract — or summary — of their findings submitted with the patent application: “The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroproectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke or trauma, or the treatment of neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia.”
Fox has had Parkinson’s for many years. My wife suffered for nearly a decade from Multiple Sclerosis, a neurological disease, before she died nearly two years ago.
I don’t know if Fox is secretly using marijuana to ease his pain, but in a minute I’ll tell you why finding out about Patent No. 6,630,507 this week angers me.
Just last week Attorney General Eric Holder said the Federal government will not attempt to challenge state laws that allow for medical and recreational use of pot. His directive will affect 20 states that now allow marijuana to be used for medical purposes, as well as Colorado and Washington, where marijuana can be used for recreational purposes.
The new guidelines do not change marijuana’s classification as an illegal drug. The issue of marijuana’s effectiveness as a pharmaceutical, as far as I know, has never been mentioned by Washington.
Marijuana plants contain a lot of different chemicals. Tetrahydrocannabinol — or THC — is considered the most active of them. Civilizations have known for thousands of years that marijuana had special properties. In a Hindu text the weed is referred to as “sacred grass.”
Despite a track record of thousands of years, Americans are still debating whether we should allow sick people to relieve symptoms of nausea and pain with pot because marijuana may sometimes end up in the wrong hands.
This past week, for instance, New Jersey changed medical marijuana legislation — again. If Govs. Jon Corzine and Chris Christie hadn’t been so pigheaded over the past few years, my wife and others might have suffered a lot less.
Jersey’s medical pot law was passed years ago but hasn’t even gone into effect yet. A revision in the law will permit licensed dispensaries to grow and sell more than three varieties of the weed and provide an edible version for children.
Christie now gets a chance to drag his feet some more before he signs the revised bill. But don’t feel too sorry for New Jersey residents. New York doesn’t even have a medical marijuana law in the works.
Usually I don’t talk about my own life in this column — unless it’s something strange, odd or funny.
My experience with medical marijuana was none of those, but I’ll tell it anyway.
Tricia had been diagnosed with MS in 1992. It wasn’t until around 2002 that she became truly helpless. MS is an inflammatory disease in which the insulating covers of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are damaged.
Tricia was on so many drugs — pain killers, muscle relaxants, antidepressants, etc. — I lost count
The idea of using marijuana to ease Tricia’s severe spasms — which could last 30 minutes or more — came up frequently. But the law was a problem.
New Jersey hadn’t implemented its medical marijuana law, so I would need to acquire the drug the old-fashioned way — on the street.
I knew that if I got caught buying pot illegally I could have been fired from my job and lose my medical coverage. That would have taken me several steps backwards.
Another one of Tricia’s many doctors had us try a synthetic form of THC — the marijuana chemical — but we had to pretend that my wife was suffering through weeping spells because that’s what the drug was intended for.
She wasn’t weeping. In fact Tricia was about as happy as anyone could be under those circumstances, but we played along.
Knowing what I do now, I regret not taking the risk of getting pot on the street.
Experts say that the potential for marijuana as a drug is endless. Dr. Gerry Crabtree, chief executive officer of drug firm Nuvilex, says it has even proven in tests to be effective against cancer.
“There’s enough literature in respectable scientific journals to justify examining cannabis as a possible treatment of cancer,” Crabtree told me this week.
You won’t really appreciate what I’m talking about until someone you love might be helped by medical marijuana. But you will probably never understand just how angry I am after finding out about Patent No. 6,630,507.
Last month, NPQ spread the word about Charlotte Figi, a six-year-old child whose epilepsy responded positively to treatment with medicinal marijuana. The story touched a chord in many readers, who reached out to us seeking more information about access to cannabinoid treatments for diseases such as Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, and forms of cancer. In that story, we drew attention to the Colorado Springs nonprofit Realm of Caring, which gave aid to Charlotte. Now, the state assembly of New Jersey is taking similar steps, passing a measure that makes it more viable for children to access the state’s medical marijuana program.
Under the terms of the new law, marijuana growers will be allowed to produce more than three varieties of the plant, and to “sell edible products that children can consume.” (Adult users of medical marijuana who want edible products are stuck with lozenges.)
The bill—S2842—was initially passed in June, but Gov. Chris Christie gave the measure a “conditional veto” until certain elements were introduced; among them, the need for a pediatrician and child psychologist to sign off before treatment could begin. Although the governor thinks of the limits as “common sense recommendations” and “appropriate safeguards,” at least one mother in Hope, N.J., finds them an obstacle. “She…questioned why the recommendation of a child’s treating neurologist, oncologist, or other specialist isn’t as important than ‘some random psychiatrist or pediatrician’ who may not be involved with the child’s ongoing treatment.”
The inspiration for the bill was the story—much like Charlotte’s—of Vivian Wilson, a two-year-old from Scotch Plains. Meghan Wilson, Vivian’s mother, said in a statement that her family was “happy that this is finally being signed into law.…Our next focus will be working with [New Jersey Health Commissioner] Mary E. O’Dowd and Department of Health to ensure that this law is properly regulated according to the true intent of the law so that Vivian and all of the other patients in New Jersey can finally start getting the type of medicine they need in the form they need.”—Jason Schneiderman
New Jersey's first medical-marijuana dispensary wins clearance to begin selling
By Jan Hefler
Inquirer Staff Writer
New Jersey's first medical marijuana dispensary has been cleared to begin selling the drug to patients who register with the state Department of Health.
After weeks of setbacks, Greenleaf Compassion Center received a permit Monday to open for business in a former drug paraphernalia shop in Montclair, Essex County. The nonprofit organization will be allowed to offer only strains with reduced potency.
Health Commissioner Mary O'Dowd said Greenleaf had passed its final inspections, but could not say when the dispensary would open for business. Asked if it would do so before the end of the year, she said: "I would expect that."
In August, when patients could begin signing up, O'Dowd had anticipated that Greenleaf would start dispensing marijuana in September. On Monday, she would say only that Greenleaf would open when it was ready.
Greenleaf chief executive Joe Stevens and his partner, Julio Valentin Jr., did not return calls seeking comment.
In August, Stevens also said he expected an early-September launch, but later explained that Montclair officials had told him it would take a few weeks to issue a certificate of occupancy after the building was renovated. He also said he did not know the Health Department would require laboratory testing of the marijuana before granting final approval.
O'Dowd said photo ID cards would be mailed to the 190 patients who registered with the Health Department after their doctors certified that they had medical conditions that can be alleviated by marijuana. An additional 130 patients are still going through the registration.
More than a year ago five other nonprofit companies received preliminary approval to open dispensaries, but they have been stymied by the lengthy process.
New Jersey is one of 17 states to allow medical marijuana despite a federal ban on the use of the substance. Federal officials have told the states they will not enforce the ban if marijuana is dispensed only to sick people and if state regulations are obeyed.
O'Dowd said her agency wanted to make sure New Jersey's program could withstand legal challenges and had taken the time to put together regulations to protect the public as well as patients. One of the challenges in implementing the program, she said, is that "the federal government views this as an illegal product."
Some dispensary owners and patients believe the state has been overly cautious and restrictive, causing patients to needlessly suffer.
Compassionate Care Foundation, one of the two nonprofits that plan to open a dispensary in South Jersey, has had to push back its estimated opening date many times in the last year because of problems getting local and state approvals. Its principal officers have had to undergo more than eight months of background checks, including extensive scrutiny of their finances.
William J. Thomas, the dispensary's chief executive, said last month that his company might be forced to abandon its plans if the background checks are not finalized soon.
O'Dowd said Monday those checks had not been completed. Thomas did not return a call and e-mail seeking comment.
Patients also have been getting anxious, especially those who paid the state's $200 registration fee in August and were expecting to receive their medicine last month.
"As each day passes, there's someone new who is suffering and someone new at risk of being prosecuted for self-medicating" by purchasing marijuana on the black market, said Rich Caporusso, a Medford man who was among the first patients to register.
He has Crohn's disease. He said his doctor believes his pain can be controlled by marijuana without the side effects of stronger drugs. In April, he sued the Health Department, saying it was stalling and ignoring patients' pain.
The medical marijuana law that then-Gov. Jon S. Corzine signed in January 2010 was supposed to be implemented that summer. But when Gov. Christie took office a few weeks after the signing, he wanted a full review of its provisions and also assurances from the federal government that there would be no prosecution.
The Health Department also took months to craft stringent regulations to limit the drug to patients with terminal illnesses, multiple sclerosis, and other serious ailments.
Jay Lassiter, an AIDS/HIV patient from Cherry Hill, said the Health Department's announcement was "wonderful news." He said he hoped there were no more snags.
He said the news was bittersweet because it came too late for Diane Riportella, a friend and patient activist who had testified at hearings, urging the Health Department to stop the delays in implementing the program.
She died last month of ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). "She should have been first in line," Lassiter said.
Check out more from the Urban Alchemist each month in Releaf Magazine.
The Real New Jersey Devil
Releaf Magazine, February 2012
New Jersey has had phantom medical marijuana program since its signing into law in 2010. The current laws there do very little to protect patient’s rights to medicate, does not allow for dispensaries, and does not give grow rights to ANYONE. Since taking office, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and his administration have dragged their feet instead of helping to provide compassion to patients. Federal interference, local zoning, cutting up the pie have all been used as reasons as to why the program won’t take off the ground. The medical cannabis programs are meant to help the greater good of the community, however we cannot let individuals fall through the cracks and suffer alone. The bigger tragedy in New Jersey; more so than the mass suffering of waiting patients is the cowardly mistreatment of multiple sclerosis (MS) patient John Ray Wilson. It would be unfair to blame the Governor for the entire situation surrounding John, however the buck stops with the Governor on this one, and he should be ashamed of himself. “Wilson was arrested on August 18, 2008 and was charged with “manufacturing” 17 marijuana plants that he used to treat his MS. Wilson faced 20 years in state prison for this crime. At trial, Superior Court Judge Robert Reed would not let the jury hear the reason that Wilson grew the marijuana plants, essentially removing Wilson’s only defense In December 2009 Wilson was acquitted of the most serious charge, but he was convicted of a second degree charge of manufacturing marijuana. He was sentenced to five years in prison on March 19, 2010. On July 26, 2011, an Appellate Court affirmed the conviction and sentencing. The Appellate Court agreed with the trial judge that there was no “personal use” exemption to the charge of manufacturing over ten marijuana plants. It did not matter that Wilson was using the marijuana to treat his MS, the Appellate Court ruled. They agreed that five years in prison for this crime was an appropriate sentence,” Atlantic Highlands Herald reports. Most recently, the New Jersey Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal in January, and now Wilson will spend five years in jail. There are many fingers of blame that can be pointed in this case. First let’s remember that John Wilson did commit a crime, as the NJMMP was not established when he was growing cannabis. We can also blame the system that does not allow for an affirmative defense, or we can blame the jury for not nullifying the case. Whoever is wrong, the fact remains that a medical marijuana patient, suffering from MS will spend five years needlessly suffering in jail for growing medical marijuana. Governor Christie could very easily commute the sentence, or pardon the crime given the circumstances; however he has ignored State Senators Scutari and Lesniak that have asked for a pardon for Wilson. Ken Wolski, RN, executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey (CMMNJ) said, “This is further proof that there is no justice for medical marijuana patients in New Jersey.” History always repeats, and if this awful situation does not have any intervention, it is a grim future that lies ahead for potential medical marijuana patients in New Jersey.
TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey officials are scheduled to announce which nonprofit organizations can start growing and selling medical marijuana.
The state adopted a law more than a year ago allowing pot to be sold to patients with certain conditions. But implementation has been delayed as officials crafted rules spelling out how the industry would work.
Monday's announcement is a major milestone in bringing medical marijuana to the most populous East Coast state to allow it.
Six organizations can receive licenses to grow and distribute cannabis. The state's rules call for the alternative treatment centers to be set up in northern, central and southern New Jersey.
Several groups that wanted to be considered decided not to apply, saying the proposed state regulations are too onerous.
Published: Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, March 8, 2011 00:03
TRENTON — Patients, health care workers and advocates of the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act confronted officials from the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) yesterday at a public hearing that addressed the law's new regulations regarding the medical distribution of marijuana.
"These regulations are unconstitutional; they are arbitrary and capricious," said attorney Justin Escher Alpert, a patient from Livingston, N.J., who supports the legalization of medical marijuana. "They are against the spirit of the law."
The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, passed in January 2010, has not been implemented yet, according to a press release from the governor's office.
Gov. Chris Christie and assemblyman Reed Gusciora, D-Princeton, who sponsored the bill, announced a compromise agreement in December that added more rules and restrictions to the measure.
The public hearing, held at the Trenton War Memorial, is part of a longer process of adoption required after changes to the original bill, signed by former Gov. Jon S. Corzine, became law.
The new rules put a limit on the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive chemical present in marijuana that gives it its hallucinogenic and therapeutic effects, at a maximum of 10 percent, according to the N.J. statute.
Unlike California, New Jersey's system does not allow patients to procure marijuana by growing it at home or buying it at a local dispensary, according to the governor's press release. Instead, there will be just six Alternative Treatment Centers (ATC) divided evenly throughout New Jersey where patients can pick up their medication.
Christie's compromise measure restricted access even more by denying ATC operators the ability to transport marijuana from the center to a patient's home, according to a press release from the governor's office.
"Many of the patients we're going to be working with are those in the home care setting who have already exhausted the need and utilization of acute care centers," said Nora Giurici of the New Jersey Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.
Giurici feels this unnecessarily restricts patients' access and can only burden the ATC.
"More than a year later, not a single patient has been able to legally access medical marijuana," said Roseanne Scotti, N.J. director of the Drug Policy Alliance.
A.J. Ballinger, an unemployed veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, expressed his disapproval of marijuana legalization.
"I am done," Ballinger said. "I cannot sit here and wait for you guys to figure out the most lucrative system to be put in place when you're talking about my mental health, my family name."
When N.J. resident Jack O'Brien was called to speak, he walked to the microphone and took off his shoes.
"Everybody's got 10 fingers and 10 toes, right? Not me. It's extremely painful," said O'Brien, who displayed his knotted hands and feet to the panel.
Jim Miller of Toms River, N.J., also came to testify on behalf of his late wife who died of multiple sclerosis and relied on marijuana for relief.
"There's a big difference between ensuring that only qualified patients have access and ensuring that qualified patients do have access," Miller said.
Contenders for ATC licenses were similarly nervous.
"You cannot go into business with this much uncertainty," said Flakewood Tucker, who applied for the credentials to operate an ATC.
Tucker said there is no way to ensure a company can give plants at a 10 percent THC level, causing any ATC to risk going out of business, unless they have deep pockets.
DHSS will announce the six winners of the ATC licenses on March 21st, said Donna Leusner, the DHSS Communications director.
So far, 80 physicians from 19 of the 21 counties in New Jersey have applied to gain the legal ability to prescribe marijuana to patients, Leusner said.
After the meeting, the public's testimony will be reviewed by the DHSS Medical Marijuana Program staff, she said. Final adoption of the regulations will be decided after Poonam Alaigh, DHSS commissioner, and her staff review the testimonies.
This is why cannabis needs to be studied and researched by doctors to set a cannabis protocol........our industry has concentrates and extractions where the potency can be controlled and dosed......why mess with nature?
State health department to hold hearing on medical marijuana rules
Published: Monday, March 07, 2011, 6:58 AM
New Jersey's Health Department on Monday will finally hold a hearing on proposed rules for how the state will regulate medical marijuana.
Lawmakers passed a law more than a year ago to allow pot for patients with certain medical conditions, but exactly how it's done has been bogged down in the rule-making process.
Patients and their advocates say the rules are burdensome. They're concerned the law limits the drug's potency, something that none of the 13 other states that allow medical marijuana have done.
While the regulatory process is creeping forward, lawmakers are considering whether to rewrite the rules. Both chambers of the Legislature have declared that the proposed regulations don't follow the legislative intent of the law.