Committee Holds Public Hearing To Repeal MMJ Rules
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Committee Holds Public Hearing To Repeal MMJ Rules
Posted by CN Staff on January 20, 2011 at 16:14:16 PT
By Susan K. Livio, Statehouse Bureau 
Source: Hunterdon County Democrat
Trenton -- A Senate committee today took another step toward dissolving the state health department's rules for the pending medical marijuana program that Gov. Chris Christie's administration has proposed and many patients describe as "political'' and "unworkable."Patients, members of advocacy groups, and attorneys for entrepreneurs who want to open a marijuana dispensary testified for about two hours before the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee at the Statehouse.
The committee also approved a resolution by a 4-2 vote rejecting a separate but related set of rules critics say are equally restrictive on doctors who recommend their patients use marijuana to alleviate nausea, pain and other symptoms. The rules, proposed by the NJ Board of Medical Examiners - the licensing and disciplinary board for physicians - requires doctors to try to wean patients off marijuana or find alternatives to the drug as soon as possible.The hearing is the latest step the Democrat-controlled legislature has taken to reject and repeal rules of New Jersey’s medical marijuana program proposed in the fall that they claim will make it very difficult for worthy patients to enroll."In its misguided efforts all the Department of Health and Senior Services has done is ensure that patients will be driven to the illegal drug market,’’ said Ken Wolski, a registered nurse and executive director for the Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey.Attorney Lisa Levine of Trenton said she represented a group of investors with pharmaceutical, financial and agricultural backgrounds that had wanted to apply to be one of the non-profit, six grower-sellers the law allows. "The regulations were released, and all key players took their marbles and went home,'' Levine said. "What was a restrictive environment is now become a strangled environment.'' Patients must visit doctors every three months to assess their need for the drug, according to the rules, "an additional cost that may not not be covered by insurance,'' Levine said. Doctors must "coach" patients on the addictive risk they are taking by using pot.."The state has inserted itself in the patient-physician relationship in an unprecedented way,'' she added. Democratic lawmakers oppose the proposed requirement that no pot be sold that has a stronger potency level than 10 percent THC, active ingredient in the drug. They also object to the state setting a limit of six strains of the plant to be sold. Legal cannabis growers in other states say symptoms such as nausea or loss of energy and other debilitating symptoms can be abated depending on the chemical composition of the plant, and limiting the availability of strains will reduce opportunities to alleviate suffering.But not everyone who testified agreed with repealing the rules. The repeal will delay the program's start date, which David Barnes of Califon said would hurt him personally.Barnes, 50, who suffers from a debilitating seizure disorder, said he was arrested for possessing a half-gram of pot last year. The local prosecutor and judge tell him they are willing to dismiss the case once he gets a medical marijuana identification card from the state. They have adjourned the matter 11 times, he said, because the governor himself at various town meeting has assured him the program is coming. Barnes made a plea for the committee to allow the state's rules to take effect so he could get out of legal trouble. "Please help me,'' he said.The hearing is one of the final steps using legislative veto power. A transcript of the proceedings must be placed on the desks of each member of the Legislature. After 20 days, the Legislature can adopt a second resolution to invalidate the regulations.The resolution rejecting the Board of Medical Examiners' proposed rules, (SCR140), must follow the same legislative veto process.Source: Hunterdon County Democrat (Flemington, NJ)Author: Susan K. Livio, Statehouse Bureau Published: Thursday, January 20, 2011Copyright: 2011 Hunterdon County DemocratURL: Medical Marijuana Archives 
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