Re: Eric Hafner, D.O.B. 5/16/1991
Dear Prosecutor Warshaw:
Eric Hafner is a 20-year old man who is currently a California resident. Mr. Hafner suffers from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He has a valid recommendation to use marijuana for this condition from Dr. William Eidelman, a licensed California physician. Unfortunately, Mr. Hafner was arrested recently in New Jersey for using marijuana as medicine and he faces trial in Middletown Township, NJ.
In January 2008, Mr. Hafner was under the medical care of a different physician who prescribed the anti-anxiety drug Xanax for him. Two months later, the physician doubled the dosage of Xanax in an unsuccessful attempt to control the painful symptoms of PTSD that Mr. Hafner was experiencing. Not only was this pharmacologic intervention unsuccessful, but it left Mr. Hafner with an intolerable adverse effect, i.e., inability to function. Mr. Hafner understandably abandoned this treatment and researched alternative treatment modalities. His research led him to medical marijuana. He found marijuana to be most effective in treating the symptoms of his PTSD, with none of the adverse effects of the prescribed medication.
Marijuana has long been recognized as being useful in the treatment of chronic pain, nausea associated with chemotherapy, the wasting syndrome of AIDS, and the increased intraocular pressure of glaucoma. Less well known is marijuana’s safety and efficacy for a wide range of mental and emotional conditions, including PTSD.
Currently 16 states and the District of Columbia have removed the penalties for the possession and use of varying amounts of marijuana when a physician recommends it. In fact, New Jersey passed into law the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act in January 2010. However, New Jersey’s Medicinal Marijuana Program is still months away from operating. New Jersey has the most restrictive medical marijuana law in the nation, so it is not surprising that PTSD is not yet considered a qualifying condition here. The state health department (DHSS) is empowered by the legislation to add qualifying conditions to its program at any time. However, the DHSS has chosen to wait a minimum of two yearsbefore it will even consider adding qualifying conditions like PTSD. Whether PTSD is a qualifying condition here is really a moot point--not a single patient in New Jersey has yet received the legal protection that the law was supposed to convey.
The use of marijuana as medicine has broad support among both health care professionals and the general public. Some 80 state and national health care organizations, including the American College of Physicians, the American Nurses Association, and the American Public Health Association support immediate, legal patient access to medical marijuana. Nearly half of all doctors with opinions support legalizing marijuana as a medicine according to a survey conducted for the American Society of Addiction Medicine. A recent survey by the Eagleton Institute showed that 86% of New Jersey voters support the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes. A number of the states and foreign countries that allow medical marijuana specifically allow it for PTSD.
Basic compassion and common sense demand that we allow seriously ill patients, like Mr. Hafner, to use whatever medication provides safe and effective relief. It would be a terrible wrong to punish Mr. Hafner--or any medical marijuana user--for seeking relief from a painful and difficult-to-treat medical condition. In Mr. Hafner’s case, it is a medical condition that is frequently associated with suicide.
Thank you for your compassionate consideration of this matter.
Ken Wolski, RN, MPA
Executive Director, Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey, Inc. www.cmmnj.org
See: "Cannabis Eases Post Traumatic Stress” By Tod Mikuriya, MD, published in O'Shaughnessy's, spring 2006, available at:http://www.mikuriya.com/cw_ptsd.html
The federal government’s obstruction of marijuana research for PTSD is noted at: http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/2011/11/ptsd-marijuana-study-for-veterans.html
Recent international conferences on medical marijuana sponsored by Patients Out of Time, are available at:http://www.medicalcannabis.com/about.htm
For a compilation of recent research on medical marijuana see: http://norml.org/library/recent-research-on-medical-marijuana