Medical Marijuana On Track

††Medical Marijuana On Track

Posted by CN Staff on March 02, 2009 at 08:36:40 PT
By Deborah Hirsch†
Source: Courier-Post†

New Jersey -- Collingswood resident Peter Rosenfeld has tried chiropractors, yoga and assorted medications to alleviate the spasms and burning pain caused by an autoimmune disorder of his cervical spine."Either they didn't work at all or the side effects were too incapacitating," said Rosenfeld, 54. In 1999, he flew to California to try marijuana treatment at a clinic that bred plants specifically targeted at his symptoms.
It was the only thing that provided consistent relief without making him so foggy that he couldn't function or work, he said. But it wasn't legal in New Jersey.That could potentially change soon.Patients such as Rosenfeld got one step closer to having legal access to medical marijuana in New Jersey when legislation passed the state Senate last week. Gov. Jon S. Corzine already has pledged to sign the law if it passes.With those hurdles cleared, advocates of medical marijuana use say they're hopeful New Jersey will become the 14th state to legalize the treatment before the end of the year.However, there still may be one obstacle in the way -- the Assembly.It has been more than four years since the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act was introduced to the state Senate.Under the bill, patients with certain chronic and terminal illnesses or diseases that cause wasting syndrome, severe nausea or persistent muscle spasms could petition the state Department of Health and Senior Services to use marijuana for medical treatment. They would need a doctor's certification of their condition.If approved, the patients would be issued ID cards protecting them from criminal prosecution for possession of up to six plants or one ounce of marijuana. They or a designated caregiver would be allowed to grow the plants or else buy the drug from a licensed treatment center.During Senate hearings, doctors and patients argued that the drug has been shown to help reduce pain and nausea for patients suffering from glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, AIDS and other conditions.Critics countered there wasn't enough proof that marijuana worked any better than existing federally approved medications. They cited statements from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and medical associations such as the National Multiple Sclerosis Society that haven't sanctioned medical marijuana because of a lack of conclusive research.Despite those passionate objections, the bill passed out of committee in mid-December and through the full Senate, 22-16, two months later.Drug prevention groups worried that illegal marijuana use would rise if the New Jersey bill ends up becoming law.Don Starn, director of Prevention Plus of Burlington County, said marijuana already is abused regularly by children in the area. His question: Why give them the idea that it's OK by legalizing it for certain purposes?"As soon as you make something available, the perception of harm decreases," he said.Critics said the law also is ripe for abuse. Without strict oversight, those with prescriptions easily could share or sell their marijuana because six plants produce more than one person needs, they said."There just is not the science to justify the use of this," said David Evans, executive director of the Drug Free Schools Coalition, based in Flemington.Stephen Goldfine, chief medical officer for Marlton-based Samaratin Hospice, said doctors will have to be sure they're prescribing limited supplies and monitoring use. Goldfine estimated that about 10 of the 400 hospice patients in his organization could benefit from prescription marijuana."We want to be very clear to the state that this is for patients to relieve their suffering. We're not condoning marijuana," he said.Anthony Mazzarelli, a bio-ethicist and emergency department doctor at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, said he believes there's evidence to support that marijuana could be more beneficial than existing medicines for certain patients."From an ethical standpoint, it makes sense that we should be maximizing the tools in the physician's toolbox," he said. ". . . But with that tool comes a responsibility."Rosenfeld, the Collingswood man with neurological pain, said he thought the law would have a fairly subtle impact because not everyone will be eligible or want to deal with the hassle of going through the process.Even though Rosenfeld could be a good candidate for marijuana, he said he wouldn't be able to take it unless he switched jobs. He said he's required to sign a form each year stating he won't violate federal laws because he does research for a government defense contractor. Regardless of state laws, the federal government still prohibits marijuana.Despite the support medical marijuana advocates already have won, they said convincing the Assembly to follow suit will be the difficult part.Assembly Democratic Majority Office spokesman Tom Hester said in an e-mail statement that Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts, D-Camden, was open to considering the bill, as long as he could be convinced "it will be carefully regulated and available under medical supervision only to those with truly legitimate needs."Opponents pointed out the Senate vote was relatively close and they could enlist the senators who voted against it to convince assemblymen to do the same. Four of the six senators in the tri-county area Dana Redd, Diane Allen, Philip Haines and Fred Madden, voted against the bill.Diane Litterer, executive director of the NJ Prevention Network, which includes groups aimed at reducing access to alcohol and drugs in every county, said her agency would be reaching out to lawmakers and other statewide organizations to explain their concerns about the bill."This shouldn't be an issue in the legislator's hands. It should be in doctor's and the FDA's hands," she said.Advocacy groups said they'll be doing the same to lobby their point.Ken Wolski, a nurse from Lawrence Township and director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana in New Jersey, said he's confident the law will pass this year.Wolski and podcaster Chris Goldstein visited Rutgers University-Camden this month to give students a presentation on medical uses for marijuana and the current legislation."It's going to happen eventually," Wolski said. "There's too much science, logic, common sense to support it."Source: Courier-Post (Cherry Hill, NJ)Author: Deborah HirschPublished: March 1, 2009 Copyright: 2009 Courier-PostURL: Articles & Web Site:Coalition for Medical Marijuana Marijuana - A Rational Approach Senate Passes Medical Marijuana Bill

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Comment #11 posted by afterburner on March 02, 2009 at 20:04:52 PT
dongenero #7 - sleep aid
"Cannabis is an outstanding sleep aid without side effects." Yes, no sleep driving!
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Comment #10 posted by charmed quark on March 02, 2009 at 18:55:05 PT
Salon: Everybody must get stoned
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on March 02, 2009 at 13:32:24 PT
OT: Study: 7.3 Million in U.S. Prison System in 07
(CNN) -- A record number of Americans served time in corrections systems across the country in 2007, according to a report released Monday by the Pew Center on the States.Some of the nation's most high-profile federal inmates are housed at the Supermax prison in Colorado. The U.S. correctional population -- those in jail, prison, on probation or on parole -- totaled 7.3 million, or 1 in every 31 adults.URL:
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on March 02, 2009 at 10:54:53 PT
Cannabis Calms The Mind
I spent time with my niece in the hospital the other day who has Stage IV NSCLC. Powerful pain medicine is needed for serious pain but what about calming the mind? She couldn't complete a thought and was agitated  the whole visit. She bounced from partial thought to another partial thought. I wish they would do a study on Cannabis to help calm a cancer patient's mind. It doesn't seem like it would be a study that would do anything but help. Just a wish.
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Comment #7 posted by dongenero on March 02, 2009 at 10:24:36 PT
sleep aid
Cannabis is an outstanding sleep aid without side effects.If that cat ever got out of the bag, use of cannabis would probably explode with the aging population.Safe and effective. No need to outline a minute and a half of deadly and dangerous side effects in a 2 minute commercial as we see with the pharmaceutical sleep aids.
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on March 02, 2009 at 09:44:51 PT

OT: Now Governor David A. Paterson
Legislation to Overhaul Rockefeller Drug Laws Moves Ahead Published: February 28, 2009On a fall afternoon in 2002, the New York City police broke up a protest in front of Gov. George E. Patakiís office in Midtown Manhattan and hauled a dozen demonstrators away.The protesters were demanding that Mr. Pataki repeal the stateís 30-year-old drug sentencing laws, widely regarded as the nationís most unforgiving. One of those placed in plastic handcuffs and carted off to a police station was a state senator named David A. Paterson.Complete Article:

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Comment #5 posted by runruff on March 02, 2009 at 09:39:08 PT

126 million prescriptions!
Boy, someone must be "Sleepless in Seatle!"
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Comment #4 posted by runruff on March 02, 2009 at 09:33:35 PT

126 million
is the number of sleeping pill prescriptions that were written in 2007.
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on March 02, 2009 at 09:30:44 PT

OT: Cannabis Could Help If It Was Cheap & Legal
With the Economy Down, Sleeplessness Is Up
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on March 02, 2009 at 09:11:11 PT

The Judge Who Ruled Marijuana is Medicine
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Comment #1 posted by runruff on March 02, 2009 at 08:55:11 PT

I hope cannabis use increases in America!
What a wonderful wourld this would be!
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