Pubdate: Thu, 13 Feb 2003
Source: Ocean County Observer (NJ)
Copyright: 2003 Ocean County Observer
Author: Jim Miller
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Physicians say the cost of malpractice insurance in New Jersey is becoming
prohibitive and they need patients to understand that. Many seriously ill
patients in New Jersey can understand that, but need physicians to
understand something also. The cost of risking arrest for illegally using
marijuana to treat an illness or its symptoms in New Jersey has always been
prohibitive and physicians' silence on this issue has been deafening. While
the New Jersey State Nurses Association has passed a resolution urging Gov.
James E. McGreevey and the Legislature to act expeditiously to make
marijuana medically available for seriously ill patients that might benefit
from it, doctors have remained silent.

Any physician who has patients with multiple sclerosis, cancer, glaucoma,
rheumatoid arthritis or AIDS probably already has a patient using marijuana
medically. Doctors cannot say that the legal medications that they prescribe
for these illnesses are always sufficient or without serious side effects.
Unfortunately, the McGreevey administration can and does say just that.

Twenty-two years ago, New Jersey passed into law the Controlled Dangerous
Substances Therapeutic Research Act, designed so New Jersey doctors could
legally observe marijuana's effects on some of life's most debilitating
diseases. On Jan. 17, 2000, the sponsor of the bill, Sen. C. Louis Bassano,
R-21st, now retired, officially requested that the state Department of
Health and Senior Services open the program and ask the federal government
for the marijuana to be used. After a delay of almost three years, Deputy
Commissioner of Health Dr. George DiFerdinando made his decision. He said
the program will not be opened because patients already have sufficient
legal medicine for all reasons for which they might use marijuana.

For doctors who think there already is adequate medicine available to treat
all such illnesses, your silence has had a purpose. For doctors who would
like to see if marijuana relieves some debilitating symptoms better than
other medications, or has less-serious side effects, your silence has been

Patients need doctors to speak up now. Go to for more
information and to see verifying correspondence from DiFerdinando, then do
the right thing. Doctors have shown that they know how to take action for
themselves. Now they need to take some action for patients. Tell the Health
Department to open the CDS Therapeutic Research Program so your patients can
have the legal option of seeing if marijuana can be of benefit for them.

I attended the physicians' rally at the Statehouse in Trenton on Feb. 4. I
saw all of the "Protect Patient Care" buttons and signs. It seems to me that
acquiring information about medical marijuana would be a good way to protect
patient care, at least as good as lowering the cost of malpractice premiums.

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