MMJ Remains Frustratingly Out of Reach
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MMJ Remains Frustratingly Out of Reach
Posted by CN Staff on April 15, 2012 at 04:42:33 PT
By Jan Hefler, Inquirer Staff Writer
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
New Jersey -- Rich Caporusso says he witnessed the therapeutic power of marijuana about a decade ago, as a cherished family member lay in the hospital dying of lung cancer. A pot-laced cookie, smuggled into her room, freed his relative from her stupor and enabled her to speak to her loved ones for the final time, said Caporusso, 32. "It was absolutely amazing to me to see a drug taught to me as a child as killing brain cells was a godsend," the Medford resident said.
Now, Caporusso is in dire need of the drug. The onetime New Jersey corrections officer is on disability, the result of injuries suffered during a 2007 prison melee and his subsequent care. Diagnosed with Crohn's disease and painful muscle spasms, Caporusso is eligible for cannabis treatments under New Jersey's two-year-old medical-marijuana program. If only that program were in operation. This month, Caporusso and his physician sued the state Department of Health and Senior Services; Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd; and John H. O'Brien Jr., director of the medical-marijuana program, who they say have "actively interfered with the implementation" of the program and imposed restrictions that have prevented sick people from getting the relief to which they are entitled. Caporusso and his doctor, Jeffrey S. Pollack, a Mays Landing internist, were joined in the suit by Caporusso's wife. In his first interview, Caporusso described to The Inquirer the agony of waiting for the treatment he believes will ease his suffering. State officials have deliberately set up "a million roadblocks" to delay a program that will help the gravely ill, he said, his voice rising as he sat in the Moorestown office of one of his lawyers, civil rights attorney William H. Buckman. The Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, signed by Gov. Jon S. Corzine in January 2010, in his last days in office, mandated the program start by July 1 of that year. Legislators later extended the deadline by three months. But it wasn't until March 2011 that the health department tentatively approved a half-dozen nonprofit groups to run dispensaries. So far, none has opened. Only two have been able to obtain sites and all await final state authorization. No marijuana is being grown. And the state has not created required registries of doctors and patients who may participate in the program. "The department empathizes with those patients who are frustrated," Daniel Emmer, a health department spokesman, said in an e-mail. But it "is building the program from the ground up and balancing the need to create a secure program with the need to provide qualified patients with access to medicinal marijuana." Emmer went on: "The state is actively moving forward to make this program a reality." Caporusso disagrees. After a nearly 22-month delay, with no grand openings in sight, the state is creeping along, he says. His suit seeks punitive damages, plus court orders to replace O'Dowd as program overseer and to impose new implementation deadlines. Thousands of severely ill New Jerseyans are waiting for the drug to become available, according to Anne M. Davis, cocounsel in Caporusso's case and chairwoman of New Jersey NORML, a nonprofit group that promotes the legalization of marijuana. An estimated 35,000 hospice patients - who have a life expectancy of six months or less - are registered in the state each year, Davis said, and all qualify for medical marijuana under New Jersey's restrictive law. Come July 1, that will be 140,000 people who have died without access to a drug that brings some pain relief without the severe side effects caused by pharmaceuticals, she said. Caporusso says his problems began in 2007 after his head was slammed to the floor by an inmate at Bordentown's Juvenile Medium Security Facility. The incident left him in intensive care. He underwent a dozen surgeries for nerve damage in his neck, spine, and arms, and he received about as many injections, Caporusso said. But his muscle spasms and excruciating pain have lingered. In January 2010, when New Jersey became the 15th state to OK medical marijuana, Caporusso was "ecstatic." "I thought this was going to be the end of a plethora of pain medications," he said. His spasms were among the conditions - including terminal cancer, multiple sclerosis, and glaucoma - the law approved for treatment. The Food and Drug Administration does not recognize marijuana as a medication. But after publication of several promising studies, the American Medical Association recently recommended the government remove restrictions against it to allow clinical testing. Doctors have reported that marijuana helps control pain, suppressed appetite, nausea, and muscle spasms in their seriously ill patients. In summer 2010, Caporusso says his pain worsened. His doctors at the time prescribed him high doses of Vicodin, Lyrica, and Celebrex. "I could barely move. Basically, they made me into a zombie," said Caporusso, who has a 3-year-old daughter. After about two months, he was back in intensive care, this time at Virtua Memorial in Mount Holly. "I was throwing up pints of blood. My stomach was shredded. My liver went into organ failure," Caporusso said. At one point, he said, a helicopter was summoned to take him to get a liver transplant. "I was scared to death," said his wife, Jill. "It was a nightmare. . . . All of this could have been prevented," she said, if marijuana had been offered. Caporusso said the Virtua doctors told him the drugs damaged his organs. He developed Crohn's disease, a chronic disorder of the digestive or gastrointestinal tract, that also is treated with marijuana. Caporusso said Pollack, his doctor, would like to prescribe him marijuana, but can't. A staff member at Pollack's office told The Inquirer that the physician would not be speaking to the media. "I'd love for him to stop taking the medications he's on now, because of all the side effects," Jill Caporusso said. Rich Caporusso believes that part of the problem is Gov. Christie, who he says "has political ambitions and is the golden boy for the Republican Party." The governor's office did not return e-mails requesting comment, but Christie has said publicly that he opposed the program and would not have signed the legislation. Christie also has said he may veto a proposed bill that would require towns to approve facilities that meet zoning and planning codes. "I've called the governor's office but have been blown off as another complaint," Caporusso said. He believes Christie's stance stems from "reefer-madness propaganda" of the '80s that portrayed marijuana as leading to crime and addiction. "I don't think the present administration wants medical marijuana," said Buckman, his lawyer. "They've bought the 'drug war' illusion that marijuana is a step toward complete legalization. "There's a good bit of callousness, as well," he said. "They think the societal good of not moving toward legalization is better than relieving any people of agony and pain." The lawsuit, which was filed in Superior Court in Trenton, also asks the court to overturn a regulation limiting the potency of medical marijuana. The restriction, which is not found in any states with similar programs, is "arbitrary and capricious and unfounded in scientific evidence," the suit says. Meanwhile, Caporusso said he takes a handful of pills each day to cope, but he is careful to limit the amount to avoid damaging his organs. "If I don't take the medications, I'm in agony," said Caporusso. "But when I do, I almost die." Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA)Author: Jan Hefler, Inquirer Staff WriterPublished: April 15, 2012Copyright: 2012 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc.URL: Inquirer.Letters phillynews.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives 
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help 

Comment #29 posted by FoM on April 18, 2012 at 12:37:59 PT
 Dick Clark R.I.P.
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Comment #28 posted by FoM on April 17, 2012 at 17:03:42 PT
Thank you. I haven't seen Bobby for a few weeks because of me being sick. His birthday is on 4/20 and I hope we can see him then. He will need to be given a trac soon if he decides he wants to go that way. So far he says no.I loved The Band. I love The Last Waltz. He will be missed but the music will live forever.
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Comment #27 posted by Hope on April 17, 2012 at 16:24:18 PT
I'm sorry about Bobby. And Levon, too.
I'm so glad you're feeling better.
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Comment #26 posted by FoM on April 17, 2012 at 14:22:00 PT
Levon Helm: May His Journey Be Peaceful Last Waltz - The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down:
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Comment #25 posted by FoM on April 17, 2012 at 13:11:57 PT
I am slowly feeling better. It sure knocked me for a Loop. I haven't had a respiratory infection since election day 2004 so I have been lucky. Bobby isn't doing well either. He went into CHF 2 times in the last few weeks. Love you lady.
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Comment #24 posted by Hope on April 17, 2012 at 12:39:38 PT
Dang it.
I'm so sorry.I had a fit of worrying about you a few days ago, but I didn't say anything. I hope you are doing better.
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Comment #23 posted by FoM on April 17, 2012 at 11:49:35 PT
I feel bad because I haven't e-mailed you recently but I have been sick and moving slow. I finally went to the doctor, had some blood tests and a mammogram and got a respiratory infection I just can't shake. 
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Comment #22 posted by FoM on April 17, 2012 at 11:46:32 PT
It is frustrating but when I think how far we have come it is amazing. People are angry about dispensaies and angry at Obama and just tired. It will all sort out. We are going thru growing pains but we are well beyond losing this war anymore.
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Comment #21 posted by Hope on April 17, 2012 at 11:31:05 PT
Reading this article...
and keeping in mind all we know about our government, prohibitionists, and events like the elderly lady in Oklahoma, I've got that sick, nauseous feeling that comes from knowing we live in a world of absolutely crazy people that are so powerful and that they are running our governments and are bringing so much harm to so many people and seemingly they keep getting away with it year after year after year.It's so sickening. It's so hard to bear. I would be even sicker if I didn't know that there were at least some other sane people out there, too.I'm thankful for knowing that and having contact with some of you. Otherwise it would be so very much harder to bear than it is.Godspeed to legalization!!!Godspeed to legalization of cannabis!!!
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Comment #20 posted by FoM on April 17, 2012 at 11:08:25 PT
I agree. They have to make ot look bad for their sake.
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Comment #19 posted by Hope on April 17, 2012 at 10:42:44 PT
She had four pounds on hand...apparently,
and is being accused of supplying forty percent of all the pot used in four states for the last twenty years?She's living high... in that little frame house with the pipe supported carport they showed? I didn't see any Porsche or Lamborghini parked in it, either. She supplies and controls forty percent of the marijuana sales in four states? That's the most outrageous thing I ever heard. Like one commenter said, they are just trying to make it look so important so they don't look so bad. Aaargh.
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Comment #18 posted by FoM on April 17, 2012 at 09:10:13 PT
I did see that article. I know Oklahoma is a tough state so she is lucky.
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Comment #17 posted by Hope on April 17, 2012 at 09:00:02 PT
Wish we could have got freedom for 
the citizens of the United States before this happened.Granny 'Drug Kingpin' Busted in Oklahoma prepared for a disgustingly huge amount of conflation and deception on the part of authorities in the report.Sickening. But at least they didn't kill her.
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Comment #16 posted by FoM on April 17, 2012 at 07:29:58 PT
No Turning Back
We've come a long way in a short time when you think how long this battle has been fought. We are becoming mainstream. We have kinks to get cleared up but in the end Cannabis will be inexpensive and when the money issue isn't the driving force we'll all wonder why this fight was so hard for such a long time. Money is what keeps this going more then anything.
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Comment #15 posted by FoM on April 17, 2012 at 07:25:26 PT
We're Winning!
Bob Marley - Three Little Birds:
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Comment #14 posted by afterburner on April 17, 2012 at 07:13:25 PT
What does this say to you?
"In the last days of [alcohol] Prohibition, the beer trucks moved freely through the streets."
-unknown historical documentary
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Comment #13 posted by FoM on April 17, 2012 at 07:04:01 PT
What it says to me is we are winning! Yippie!
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Comment #12 posted by runruff on April 17, 2012 at 06:41:46 PT
The more info the better.
With what I can determine based on my cross country survey [Two other sights were more forth comming] Domestic pot prices are way down across the country. Even in your tough prohib areas it is down due to an increase in production accross the board. Usage up, production up, prices down.What does this say to you?
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on April 16, 2012 at 16:30:16 PT
It was interesting and far ahead of what I have heard in the past. I can imagine if Obama had agreed to legalization as the answer after what happened after the stay at home moms dustup and it wasn't even a surrogate of Obamas. The right wing would go orbital! 
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on April 16, 2012 at 15:37:13 PT
I don't know but good seedless is about $120 and ounce from what I have been told.
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on April 16, 2012 at 15:34:52 PT
Thank you. I will turn it on.
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Comment #8 posted by runruff on April 16, 2012 at 15:05:00 PT
A casual survey.
Can any of you here give us an idea what the pound price of herhs is in your nieghborhood.I found out today that the standard around here is $800-$1,200 a pound for locally grown.
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Comment #7 posted by ekim on April 16, 2012 at 14:55:42 PT
just on Hard BAll MSNBC Chris Matthews rpts at 7pm
Chris had on Kevin Sabet and Ethan Nadelmann to debate
the drug war.Chris was down at the summit in Columbia this
past weekend.Show will repeat at 7pm Dir TV Ch 356
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Comment #6 posted by runruff on April 16, 2012 at 14:46:42 PT
Dear jerry,This past weekend, President Obama joined more than thirty other heads of state from throughout the Americas in Colombia for the Summit of the Americas. For the first time ever, a major focus of the summit was the need for alternative strategies to the failed war on drugs. After decades of being brutalized by the U.S. government's failed prohibitionist drug policies, Latin American leaders are saying "enough is enough." Two major developments came out of the meeting. President Obama reiterated his position that exploring drug war alternatives is a legitimate topic for debate, and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos proposed the establishment of a taskforce to ensure that future drug policy deliberations consider all options, not just variations on failed drug war strategies.I have been meeting with and advising top officials and other interested parties in Latin America in recent months. Youíll be delighted to know that many of them are inspired by marijuana law reform efforts here in the United States, which undercut the crude prohibitionist posture of our federal government. That clearly has helped embolden them in their increasingly forceful demands that U.S. policymakers take their heads out of the sand.Whatís happening right now -- both with the burgeoning drug policy debate in the Americas and with the accelerating movement to end marijuana prohibition in the United States -- is unprecedented. Letís keep up the momentum!Sincerely,Ethan Nadelmann
Executive Director 
Drug Policy Alliance
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Comment #5 posted by The GCW on April 16, 2012 at 12:33:06 PT
2 developements in COLORADO
#1. From, Mason Tvert
Co-Director, Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like AlcoholI have some exciting news to report:This past weekend, the Democratic Party of Colorado included in its official party platform an endorsement of Amendment 64, our initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol! Better yet, due to a strong showing of support among delegates, this endorsement became part of the Democratic Party's more exclusive "essential" platform.This endorsement was in large part the result of our campaign's tremendous grassroots effort that resulted in hundreds of precincts and more than a dozen of Colorado's largest counties adopting resolutions in support the initiative.Winning the endorsement of one of the two major political parties here in Colorado is a testament to the momentum of our movement. The issue of regulating marijuana like alcohol, once considered taboo, is now firmly planted in the mainstream. And on November 6, we have the opportunity to become the first place in the world to do it.But as we told you last week, weíre going to need 1.2 million votes to secure victory on Election Day. Every vote will count. So will you take a moment to pledge to vote YES on Amendment 64, right now?#2. Have you ever wished that the $10 bill in your pocket was actually a $100 bill instead? Well, thatís what we can do for you to celebrate 4/20 this month ...For every $1 you donate to MPP this week, weíll give $10 to the historic campaign to end marijuana prohibition entirely in Colorado -- the initiative thatís already confirmed to be on the statewide ballot on November 6.Thankfully, a wealthy MPP supporter has given us the financial flexibility to honor this 10-to-1 match with up to $1,000,000! So Iím hoping that you and our other allies will be willing to donate up to $100,000 between now and Friday.To make things even more exciting, any new monthly credit card donations that are started between today and 4/20 will be multiplied by 12 -- for the full value of a year-long pledge -- and then still trigger the 10-to-1 match for Colorado!This means that starting a $10 monthly credit card donation today ... times 12 months ... times the 10-1 match ... will trigger a $1,200 donation to Colorado, which will be in addition to your personal donation to MPP.This is a huge opportunity, and itís not going to happen again. Would you please make a one-time or a monthly donation today?Weíre extremely excited about the pending ballot initiative in Colorado, which would make this state the first place in the world to regulate marijuana like alcohol. But we obviously have many different campaigns and lobbying efforts we can and should support with our general fund. So weíre giving you and MPPís other supporters the opportunity to tell us how much we should donate. If you want to see Colorado change the course of marijuana history, this is your time to act. Check out the graphic below to see just how far your donation will go, and start your pledge today!Cont.
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on April 16, 2012 at 11:16:55 PT
Med Marijuana Advocates Oppose Legalization Bill
By Mike Riggs
 April 16, 2012Members of the medical marijuana industry have come out against ballot initiatives in two states that would allow consumers over the age of 21 to legally purchase and consume small quantities of marijuana for recreational use. 
Washington Stateís Initiative 502 and Coloradoís Amendment 64 would regulate pot similarly to alcohol and tobacco, according to their backers. In Washington, even home growers producing for personal use would have to seek a license from the state liquor board, and consumers would be allowed to possess only an ounce at a time. Colorado's initiative would have the same possession limit, and would allow home growers to have up to six plants. URL:
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Comment #3 posted by ekim on April 16, 2012 at 10:15:07 PT
info from MI
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Comment #2 posted by Oleg the Tumor on April 16, 2012 at 06:39:05 PT:
Mr. Zuckerman- they said this to the Indians, too 
Not that you don't have a point, you do. 
This guy is so sick, he really should seek shelter. 
There is a certain Darwinian logic that should kick in when organ failure is at issue. 
But his legal case is valid. He is a victim of systemic failure. Ogden Memo be damned, our government is in the way of health care!But what about Objective Medical Science? (Also described as a process that allows the "unknown" to become "known", and verified by subsequent repeated experimentation)Who controls this? Physicians? Not since the 1970's, when Uncle Sam decided to park the marijuana issue in the DEA's vast wasteland for some other generation to deal with.I give a lot of credit to his doctor, Dr. Pollack, for joining the lawsuit, he is in for a shitstorm, which he should be able to withstand, unlike a few short years ago.If Physicians do not "hang together" and challenge the government's position on marijuana, they will almost certainly hang in debt separately, having already lost the ability to frame the "Big Picture" according to scientific truths instead of the political gamesmanship of societal control. 
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Comment #1 posted by Richard Zuckerman on April 15, 2012 at 15:50:29 PT:
Move to another State:
If he can't get his medical Marijuana in New Jersey, then move out of New Jersey to a place where he can ingest the Cannabis!! Self-preservation is the first law of nature. Never mind the whining: Get out of New Jersey, Dude!! Move out West somewhere; just watch out for the earthquakes and other bad weather conditions.
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