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3 Reasons Drug Dealers Better For NJ Medical Marijuana Patients

1:55 pm in Uncategorized by michael hayne

Pot leaf

Restrictive medical marijuana policies leave New Jersey residents relying on drug dealers.

A couple years after New Jersey joined 18 states in allowing medical marijuana, Governor Christie has been trying to severely weaken if not downright nullify the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, a final act of power by outgoing Governor Corzine. Governor Christie has created bureaucratic hurdles that have brought medical marijuana to its very knees, begging for mercy. Christie has been waging a very public war on education in NJ, but he’s also been waging a more subtle and smaller war on medical marijuana as well.

So here are three reasons why it’s better for NJ medical marijuana patients to go to pot dealers:

1. Unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles with no end in sight for people already under considerable stress. The state requires all patients “develop an ongoing relationship” with a doctor who specializes in palliative care. This relationship must be established over the course of four in-person appointments. Usually patients are too infirm to jump through all of these hoops, so that means that either a spouse or partner will have to help out. But the state requires that both the applicant intending on using the medical marijuana apply for identification cards as well as the spouse or partner, Further, one as a patient and one as a caretaker, which can cost upwards of $200. 

2. Excessive costs.  One 64 year old woman of Cliffside Park evidently had to drop $200 for an ID card and $500 in doctor’s bills (insurance won’t cover ‘experimental treatment’) and yet she’s barely even been able to get on the waiting list at the state’s only licensed dispensary that’s naturally swamped. Hence this explains why Suzzete Roberts of Cliffside Park is deciding to go through a good old reliable dealer since it’s way cheaper and expeditious. Roberts has stage 4 breast cancer and simply cannot wait. But there are many more who share Roberts’ frustration. For example,  Jersey City resident, whose wife was suffering from a rare form of cancer, also decided that it was easier to get it illegally than face the costs and asphyxiating bureaucracy. under Christie’s medical marijuana program. 

3. Registration fees and Sales Tax. According to a Star Ledger Analysis, New Jersey is tied for second for the costliest registration fee ($200 for two years), has the third-highest sales tax (7 percent) and the steepest marijuana prices, according to state and dispensary websites. Further, it can cost $700 for an ID card and an measly ounce of marijuana for a patient to just get started, compared with $300 in Colorado, $510 in Washington, D.C., $531 in Arizona, and $460 in Michigan. (NJ.com)

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‘Cruel Bureaucracy’ of Medical Marijuana Law Forces Sick, Frustrated Patients to Find Another Way

10:53 am in Uncategorized by michael hayne

(Editor’s Note: This article was originally written for NewJerseyNewsroom.com and can be found here)

A couple years after New Jersey joined 18 states in allowing medical marijuana, Governor Christie has been trying to severely weaken if not downright nullify the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, a final act of power by outgoing Governor Corzine. Governor Superfleece has created bureaucratic hurdles that have brought medical marijuana to its very knees, begging for mercy.

“At this point, I’ve given up. I’ve given up any hope of getting help from the state through legal channels. I’ll just get what my wife needs illegally.”  (Hudson Reporter)

These were the very pointed words of a Jersey City resident, who did not want to be identified and who delivered them from a waiting room last week at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where his wife was undergoing her second round of chemotherapy. Just a couple days after Hurricane Sandy and barely two weeks before Thanksgiving, this resident’s wife was hit with even more bad news as she was diagnosed with peritoneal cancer, a very rare form of the disease that affects the thin tissue that lines the abdominal organs. Since immediate surgery was not an option, her doctors initially attempted to shrink her tumors with a nine-session round of chemotherapy, which would then be followed with surgery and a second round of cancer-fighting drugs. Obviously this intense treatment was considerably debilitating, as her husband says she dropped weight fast since she was so nauseous and unable to eat.

“I was getting concerned because, of course, all of this was going to be followed by surgery and we had to be sure she would be strong enough to go through with that,” said her husband.  (Hudson Reporter)

The husband then decided that he would get her enrolled in New Jersey’s Medical Marijuana Program to receive a prescription of pot. Since marijuana has been proven time and time again to help remedy the side effects from chemotherapy, he figured that the pot would reduce her nausea and start building up her appetite.

And here is where Christie’s ridiculously trying bureaucracy came to pass. If only she could’ve treated her ailments with an AR-15.

According to the law, his wife was required to “develop an ongoing relationship” with a doctor who specializes in palliative care. This relationship must be established over the course of four in-person appointments, which this couple did with palliative specialist Dr. Perry Stein of Montclair. And since medical insurance won’t cover such experimental treatment, the couple had to pay for these appointments out-of-pocket, according to the husband.

“That first appointment was 175 bucks. After that, the appointments were 100 bucks each. We then had to pay to get fingerprinted. And that was, like, $75. I was trying to do this thing right.” (Hudson Reporter)

And here’s where things got even worse for the couple. It seems that she was given an account number, a requirement for getting the prescription pot. But outrageously enough, the state required both of them to get identification cards that cost $205.40 each. By law, his wife is required to have an ID card as the patient, and he is required to have one as her caretaker.

“It’s been very frustrating for patients,” said Ken Wolski, CEO of the New Jersey chapter of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana, who is also a registered nurse. “We’ve heard terrible stories of people jumping through hoops to get registered and getting an ID card, but then not being able to get marijuana to treat their symptoms. And many of these people are just suffering needlessly.” (Hudson Reporter)

Totally vexed and frustrated, the husband said “It’s really a shame how this has turned out. “This is something that really would have been beneficial for my wife.” And after trying to do everything the right way but getting slammed by Christie’s cruel bureaucracy, the husband just figured that it would be easier to get it illegally.

 Michael is a comedian/VO artist/Columnist extraordinaire, who co-wrote an award-nominated comedy, produces a chapter of Laughing Liberally, wrote for NY Times Laugh Lines, guest-blogged for Joe Biden, and writes a column for MSNBC.com affiliated Cagle Media. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, and like NJ Laughing Liberally Lab if you love political humor from a progressive point-of-view. Seriously, follow him or he’ll send you a photo of Rush Limbaugh bending over in a thong. Read the rest of this entry →

No Certainty for Medical Marijuana in New Jersey

1:17 pm in Uncategorized by michael hayne

Map of New Jersey (source: NationalAtlas.gov)

Today marked the deadline for those wishing to distribute medical marijuana in the state of New Jersey, but questions over the ridiculously stringent regulations imposed by Governor Chris Christie have left many scratching their heads.

Nevertheless, the state is moving forward with its deadline for prospective dealers to apply to legally grow and sell medical marijuana, but prospective licensees and advocates say the issue is complicated by the rules and regulations being set up. In fact, they claim the state proposed rules are so restrictive that their operations might not be viable.

Professional watch-me-scream-on YouTube and occasional Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, has made access to medical marijuana for sickly patients strenuous and stringent. For example, he has severely weakened the medical marijuana law signed by his predecessor — including allowing only six legal growing sites and six distribution sites. It seems Christie originally wanted a mere two growers and four distributors.

Even though the governor claims he supports the concept of medical marijuana for patients for some conditions,  he says the law he was given wasn’t tough enough, which is odd considering that  advocates say it’s more restrictive than those in the 13 other states that allow medical marijuana.

In light all of these grey areas and uncertainties, groups are hesitant to apply  because it’s unclear whether the current rules will remain in place in the future. One group has even gone to court to try to get the deadline pushed back.

According to the Coalition for Medical Marijuana in New Jersey, the Department of Health and Senior Services has scheduled a public hearing on the proposed medical marijuana regulations between 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. on Monday, March 7, 2011 at the following address:

New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services

First Floor Auditorium

Health and Agriculture Building

369 South Warren Street (at Market Street )

Trenton, New Jersey 08608

Hopefully deliberations will result in a consensus that’s friendly to both growers and patients, as the current regulations are strangling growers and depriving sickly patients of much needed relief.