An Open Letter to the New Jersey Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee

September 6, 2006 Re: "New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act" (S88 & A933) Restrictions Opposed New Jersey lawmakers will soon consider whether to pass into law the "New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act" (S88 and A933). This act would remove the statewide criminal penalties for the use, possession and cultivation of a small amount of marijuana for qualified patients under a program administered by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHSS). The Coalition for Medical Marijuana—New Jersey (CMM-NJ) urges lawmakers to support this bill as it is written. We oppose any attempt to restrict the diseases or conditions that would qualify a New Jersey patient for medical marijuana. This is a question that is properly left only to the treating physician. There are, moreover, a number of rare conditions that respond well to medical marijuana. The federal government, in its only existing Investigational New Drug (IND) trial of medical marijuana, recognizes Nail-Patella Syndrome as well as Multiple Congenital Cartilaginous Exostosis as qualifying conditions for medical marijuana. These two conditions respond well to marijuana therapy, as do the more common conditions included in the IND study, Glaucoma and Multiple Sclerosis. The federal government has been treating patients in this study for up to 27 years by giving them marijuana. Each month the patients in this IND study receive from the federal government a cannister that holds about nine ounces of marijuana. The cannisters hold 300 pre-rolled cigarettes, that may be consumed at the rate of 10 or more per day, or about two ounces per week. All of the patients in this study are doing well—their conditions are controlled, side effects are minimal, and marijuana is the only medicine they are using for their conditions. Here in New Jersey, a mother contacted CMM-NJ to beg that her son be allowed medical marijuana for a condition called Friedreich's Ataxia. She said, "There are about 6,000 people in the country who have this disease. There is no cure and marijuana is the only thing that works for the pain. It's not easy watching your child suffer from pain when a simple solution like marijuana can ease the muscle spasms, bone and joint pain, muscle pain and involuntary eye movements that this disease (causes)." Nothing relieves her son's symptoms as safely and as effectively as marijuana. Who could face this mother and say, "We will only allow medical marijuana for cancer and multiple sclerosis, but not for your son's condition?" And what about Roberta—a kindly, New Jersey grandmother who suffers from a very painful condition called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy? Her condition is progressive (getting worse) and incurable. Roberta plans to commit suicide when the pains get too great and the medical intervention too oppressive. She wants to try medical marijuana as a last ditch measure before suicide. Who could say to Roberta, "No, it is better that you commit suicide than have a trial of medical marijuana?" No one can foresee all of the conditions that might respond to medical marijuana. Qualifying conditions for medical marijuana must only be decided by the patient's own physician, not by a politician, no matter how well intentioned. Restricting conditions for medical marijuana can only be described as arbitrary and capricious. CMM-NJ urges lawmakers to adopt the "New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act" (S88 & A933) as written. Ken Wolski, RN, MPA Executive Director Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey 844 Spruce St. Trenton, NJ 08648 (609) 394-2137 [email protected]
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