New Requirement Called Openly Hostile, “Blatantly Political”
New Jersey doctors who have begun enrolling some of their sickest patients in the state’s medical marijuana program Tuesday found they must agree to tell the patients there’s a “lack of scientific consensus” that cannabis works, that it could even hurt them, and that it has a risk of addiction.
Physicians must sign off on a statement attesting to their patients’ qualifying conditions and the failure of “conventional medicine” to help alleviate their suffering, reports Susan K. Livio at NJ.com.
But the statement goes much farther than that. It also forces doctors to provide “education for the patient on the lack of scientific consensus for the use of medical marijuana, its sedative properties, and the risk of addiction.”
State Health Department spokeswoman Donna Leusner claimed the statement is “reasonable.”
“Marijuana, like other drugs that affect the central nervous system, has the potential to cause a patient to become addicted,” Leusner claimed, ignoring scientific evidence indicating otherwise.
|Photo: Gest Alta
|Ken Wolski, CMMNJ: “This is a blatantly political statement, at odds with the law itself, and shows open hostility to the use of marijuana as medicine”
The requirement is a “blatantly political statement” that further proves Gov. Chris Christie’s administration is actively trying to weaken the medical marijuana program before it even starts, according to Ken Wolski, a nurse and executive director of the cannabis advocacy group Coalition for Medical Marijuana in New Jersey.
The statement “shows open hostility to the use of marijuana as medicine,” Wolski said.
He also said he was troubled that the online registry form requires doctors to attest they have completed education in “addiction medicine and pain management” within the past two years. They also “must include the course title that covers these two areas, or they will be rejected from the registry,” according to the online form.
Wolski said those requirements are not in the law.
|Graphic: Narco Polo
|Marijuana is less addictive than caffeine.
”Marijuana is approximately as addictive as caffeine,” he said. (I respect Wolski and his work enormously, but even that overstate’s the addiction potential of cannabis. Coffee’s way more addictive than pot — it gives you headache when you quit cold turkey, and marijuana doesn’t.)
“Physicians should not be required to take a course in addiction medicine for recommending a substance with documented low addiction potential,” Wolski said.
The debate is the latest controversy over the creation of a state-approved medical marijuana program in New Jersey.
The law’s authors, including co-sponsor State Senator Nicholas Scutari (D-Union), said they are so disappointed in the state Health and Senior Services Department’s overly restrictive approach to the rules that they have threatened to repeal them if the Christie administration won’t compromise.
Even if the Legislature does act, however, it would simply hand any rewrite back to the DHSS, allowing the agency to come up with a whole new set of rules that might still not make patients or advocates happy, reports Brian Thompson at NBC New York.
Starting on Tuesday, physicians can visit the Health Department’s website and enter their name, medical license number and the Drug Enforcement Administration number that permits them to write prescriptions. After all that information is confirmed, the doctors can enroll patients by name and medical condition and give patients a code number so they can apply for an ID card, according to Deputy Health Commissioner Susan Walsh.
Seventeen physicians had registered online by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Leusner said. There is no limit on the number of doctors who can sign up for the registry, according to Leusner.
Medical marijuana from state-licensed dispensaries is not expected to be available until late spring at the earliest