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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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Vermont Joins 17 States After Voting To Decriminalize Marijuana

3:35 pm in Uncategorized by michael hayne

Close-up of high quality cannabis

Vermont decriminalized possession of small amounts of cannabis.

Vermont is already notorious for being a state to get syrup and smoke weed, so it might as well official decriminalize pot. Syrup is  still legal, but it doesn’t produce nearly the amount of benefits (or fun) that marijuana does.

On Tuesday, Vermont’s Senate voted  to approve legislation to decriminalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, thus making it a simple fine rather than a misdemeanor and further strain on taxpayers. It seems the measure already passed the House in April. Vermont now joins the fifteen other evolved states that have since decriminalized non-medicinal marijuana use.

Under current law, an individual possessing up to an ounce in Vermont can be incarcerated for up to six months. So sorry private-prison builders: this now means that we won’t be able to make all of you even richer by tossing non-violent, law-abiding adults into your already ridiculously overcrowded prisons. Better still, the measure will free up police resources and allow them to actually focus on legit crime, as opposed to chasing after people in Birkenstocks for possessing the non-lethal plant. And with recent polls showing a whopping 61 percent of support for decriminalization  the leaders of Vermont–unlike the lobbyist in-training mannequins in Washington–actually heeded the will of the people.

The measure still requires another vote, but it’s mostly seen as simple technicality before it goes to the desk of  Governor Peter Shumlin who has promised to sign it.

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.

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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 →

New Justice Department Threatens Raids on Pot Shops

3:32 pm in Uncategorized by michael hayne

t seems a day doesn’t go by where medical marijuana isn’t on the receiving end of wicked bully smack-down. From Governor Chris Christie’s weakening of New Jersey’s medical marijuana law, to the Feds unremitting war against cancer patients, government agencies are keeping it in the closet similar to gay marriage.

Medical marijuana advocates are fighting against a new Justice Department threat to raid and prosecute medical pot shops even in states where the drug is legal.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama pledged to put an ed to the nefarious raid that were so ubiquitous during the Bush Administration. Upon assuming office, President Obama issued a memo that instructed federal law enforcement officials to back off. Furthermore, If a person was in compliance with state and local laws, the memo instructed to just leave them alone.

However,  Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole issued a new memo that ostensibly claims to provide “guidance” on the previous memo, but the memo looks more like a leaflet warning pot shops that the Justice Department is about to bomb them.

The previous memo, Cole writes, “advised that it is likely not an efficient use of federal resources to focus enforcement efforts on individuals with cancer or other serious ill.”

Naturally, pot shop owners are livid.

Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, said “cancer patients are going to have to grow their own product or buy it on the street somewhere.”

Although rightfully outraged, Smith doesn’t think shops will be deterred and forced to close their doors in the face of the threat.

“I don’t think anybody’s going to close down as a result of the memo. People are nervous, but this industry — particularly look at California, which bloomed pretty quickly during the Bush administration, when there were weekly raids.”

It seems that law enforcement officials are equally bothered by the memo.

Tom Angell, a spokesman for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, said that “by threatening to raid state-legal and regulated compassion centers, the Obama administration is causing more patients — and more tax-free money — to be diverted to the violent black market, where drug cartels and gangs battle it out for profits.”

Steve DeAngelo, owner of Harborside Health Center, cited the potential psychological trauma that would be inflicted on sick patients being forced to wonder if their pot shop would close at any given moment.

“When things like this happen, they really send a shock through the patient community, which is vulnerable and shaky,” DeAngelo said.

DeAngelo may have raised money for Obama in 2008, but now he’s thinking of voting for a Republican such as Ron Paul in 2012. Irrespective of the political ramifications, he’s not closing Harborside. “We made our decision five years ago when we opened our doors, come hell or high water,” he said. “They can come close me down, but I will not do it voluntarily under any circumstances whatsoever.”

No matter what your feelings on the magic weed are, nobody can deny that it legitimately helps people suffering from terminal illnesses, and that those people deserve the right to access it in states where it’s permissible–free from pesky government interference.

The entire memo can be read below.

______________________________________________________________________________________

June 29, 2011

MEMORANDUM FOR UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS

FROM: James M. Cole Deputy Attorney General

SUBJECT: Guidance Regarding the Ogden Memo in Jurisdictions Seeking to Authorize Marijuana for Medical Use

Over the last several months some of you have requested the Department’s assistance in responding to inquiries from State and local governments seeking guidance about the Department’s position on enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) in jurisdictions that have under consideration, or have implemented, legislation that would sanction and regulate the commercial cultivation and distribution of marijuana purportedly for medical use. Some of these jurisdictions have considered approving the cultivation of large quantities of marijuana, or broadening the regulation and taxation of the substance. You may have seen letters responding to these inquiries by several United States Attorneys. Those letters are entirely consistent with the October 2009 memorandum issued by Deputy Attorney General David Ogden to federal prosecutors in States that have enacted laws authorizing the medical use o f marijuana (the “Ogden Memo”).

The Department of Justice is committed to the enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act in all States. Congress has determined that marijuana is a dangerous drug and that the illegal distribution and sale o f marijuana is a serious crime that provides a significant source o f revenue to large scale criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels. The Ogden Memorandum provides guidance to you in deploying your resources to enforce the CSA as part of the exercise of the broad discretion you are given to address federal criminal matters within your districts.

A number of states have enacted some form of legislation relating to the medical use of marijuana. Accordingly,the Ogden Memo reiterated to you that prosecution of significant traffickers of illegal drugs, including marijuana, remains a core priority, but advised that it is likely not an efficient use of federal resources to focus enforcement efforts on individuals with cancer or other serious illnesses who use marijuana as part of a recommended treatment regimen consistent with applicable state law, or their caregivers. The term “caregiver” as used in the memorandum meant just that: individuals providing care to individuals with cancer or other serious illnesses, not commercial operations cultivating, selling or distributing marijuana.

The Department’s view of the efficient use of limited federal resources as articulated in the Ogden Memorandum has not changed. There has, however, been an increase in the scope of commercial cultivation, sale, distribution and use of marijuana for purported medical purposes. For example, within the past 12 months, several jurisdictions have considered or enacted legislation to authorize multiple large-scale, privately-operated industrial marijuana cultivation centers. Some of these planned facilities have revenue projections of millions of dollars based on the planned cultivation of tens of thousands of cannabis plants.

The Ogden Memorandum was never intended to shield such activities from federal enforcement action and prosecution, even where those activities purport to comply with state law. Persons who are in the business of cultivating, selling or distributing marijuana, and those who knowingly facilitate such activities, are in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, regardless of state law. Consistent with resource constraints and the discretion you may exercise in your district, such persons are subject to federal enforcement action, including potential prosecution. State laws or local ordinances are not a defense to civil or criminal enforcement of federal law with respect to such conduct, including enforcement of the CSA. Those who engage in transactions involving the proceeds of such activity may also be in violation of federal money laundering statutes and other federal financial laws.

The Department of Justice is tasked with enforcing existing federal criminal laws in all states, and enforcement of the CSA has long been and remains a core priority.

cc: Lanny A. Breuer Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division

B. Todd Jones United States Attorney District of Minnesota Chair, AGAC

Michele M. Leonhart Administrator Drug Enforcement Administration

H. Marshall Jarrett Director Executive Office for United States Attorneys

Kevin L. Perkins Assistant Director Criminal Investigative Division Federal Bureau of Investigations

Ron Paul and Barney Frank to Legalize Marijuana…Finally!

7:13 am in Uncategorized by michael hayne

Four decades of the so-called “War on Drugs” has produced incarceration of innocents, the suffering of millions of innocents, overcrowding of our prisons with non-violent citizens, the complete and utter waste of billions of dollars we don’t have on law enforcement, and the empowerment of underground drug gangs who thrive on violence.

Trying to find any tangible victory in this insane quagmire is like trying to take a dump with the toilet seat up. Firstly, how can we legitimately accept any notion that the government is sincere about eradicating pot when we have palindromes and Charlie Sheen? In 2010 the Federal Government spent a whopping $15 billion on the war on drugs, and all we have to show for it is some confiscated bongs, the picture of Michael Phelps, and that egg commercial. Pot is bad, right? So it’s imperative for citizens to engage in salubrious activities  such as drinking booze and eating whatever the hell Jimmy Dean makes.

The so-called “war on drugs” has been, and will continue to be an abject failure. There are multiple reasons, but the primary and the most easily resolved of these is to accept that most involved in the “war” effort are making money from the perpetuation of illegal drugs – crooked politicians, drug dealers, growers and or “designers”, law enforcement, penal institutions, pawn shops, gun manufacturers and retailers and their intermediaries, pimps, insurance companies, prosecutors, defense attorneys, drug treatment facilities, and on and on… then take that money out of the business.

But that may all change…

In an effort to end our irrational drug policies once and for all, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) has teamed up with Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA)  to introduce legislation legalizing marijuana in America. Despite the fact that “Campaign Obama” promised voters he would end this irrational war upon being elected, he appears to be too busy being all Dick Cheney with the constitution with regards to the “non-war” in Libya.

The fact is that there has never been a “war on drugs”, so abandoning its failed premises will not be “losing the war” – actually a conflict the execution of which has simply been a red-herring to enable posturing and extravagant processes and procedures to generate illegitimate revenue. Worse yet, the fictitious “war” empowers the DEA and gives the federal government tyrannical power to flagrantly ignore the 4th amendment  in searching peoples’ private residences. 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.