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Cathi D.'s Legislator Communication Paper Trail

Updated: Mar 4

Cathi D., Mt. Laurel, is a constituent of NJ state Assemblyman Herb Conaway. She is also Jim Miller's significant other. Cathi first emailed her assembly representative through Conaway’s legislative website in September 2019 and got no response. Then she and Jim visited his office a month later and talked with “Gina” about the nature of her email that apparently “slipped through the cracks”. Gina called Cathi that evening to say that the information she dropped off was on Conaway’s desk and someone would be in touch. After no reply for two months Cathi sent this email to Gina.

December 17, 2019 Gina,                                                                                                   

It has been over ¼ of a year since my first constituent request to schedule a meeting with a staff member for myself and my partner who is a medical marijuana patient. The stated purpose was to have a staff member fully assimilate the nature of our concern(s) and present it to Dr. Conaway for him to be able to be prepared for a subsequent meeting, the first meeting with him.

After that email sent through your legislative website was left unanswered for over a month, I along with Jim brought it to your office and spoke with you, leaving additional information for Assemblyman Conaway to go over before having a meeting scheduled. I thought that would save time and help him be prepared. You then called me that evening to verify that it was indeed on his desk. That was perhaps two months ago. Not a peep since.

Medical cannabis patients are now looking to the 14 current senators who voted in favor of our medical cannabis bill S119 a decade ago, requesting that they sponsor a stand-alone bill allowing for the home cultivation rights that they had already voted for in that bill, 6 cannabis plants per patient. That provision was pulled from S119's companion bill, A804, by Chairman Conaway 10 minutes before the vote in his Assembly Health Committee, without explanation then or now. Sadly, I was there with Jim to experience that unexplained blindside of sick and dying patients. Now, patients need to know what went wrong then in order to know if that impediment still exists. I would argue, publicly if necessary, that sick and dying patients deserve that information. For some, their lives depend on it.

I will be sending a certified copy of this email to your office; which I imagine you will be signing for. This will be my last request for an appointment with Assemblyman Conaway. As a constituent and a first-time contact, I would hope that this will all be proven to be a simple matter to correct with the scheduling of an ASAP meeting. 1000+ NJ registered medical cannabis patients have died since my first contact with your office over 3 months ago according to extrapolated DOH statistics. This will be my last request for a meeting with Assemblyman Conaway to meet with Jim and me. If left unanswered again I will have no choice but to leave it to Jim on how to proceed next. Please google search Jim Miller NJ medical marijuana to understand the benefit of compliance with this request.

Cathi D.

Mount Laurel, NJ

This email reply came back 15 minutes later:

Hello Catherine,

Gina no longer works for the Assemblyman. My Chief of Staff is willing to meet with you in the beginning of the year. However, he would like to know what exactly you are looking for from the meeting.

Regards,

MITCHELL ZUPKO

Director of Constituent Relations

ASSEMBLYMAN HERB CONAWAY, MD.

Delran Professional Center

8008 Route 130 North, Suite 450

Delran, New Jersey 08075 | 856.461.3997 | Fax: 856.461.3823

With no organized effort underway, Cathi let things simmer for the rest of the year before sending this back:

Mitchell,                                                                                                          Thank you for responding. Please do not consider the delay in my getting back to you to be indicative of a lack urgency in addressing my request.

What I am looking for in the meeting was covered in the first paragraph of my last email from Dec 17, 2019 (above). I will quote that here. I would assume that Gina's files are available to you as well.

"The stated purpose was to have a staff member fully assimilate the nature of our concern(s) and present it to Dr. Conaway for him to be able to be prepared for a subsequent meeting, the first meeting with him. Medical cannabis patients are now looking to the 14 current senators who voted in favor of our medical cannabis bill S119 a decade ago, requesting that they sponsor a stand-alone bill allowing for the home cultivation rights that they had already voted for in that bill, 6 cannabis plants per patient. That provision was pulled from S119's companion bill, A804, by Chairman Conaway 10 minutes before the vote in his Assembly Health Committee, without explanation then or now. Sadly, I was there with Jim to experience that unexplained blindside of sick and dying patients. Now, patients need to know what went wrong then in order to know if that impediment still exists. I would argue, publicly if necessary, that sick and dying patients deserve that information. For some, their lives depend on it".

So, to be more specific, did Chairman Conaway act on his own to pull home cultivation from S119 (instead of having A804 be an identical companion bill to S119)? That doesn't seem viable. Other legislators have surmised that Governor Corzine issued the ultimatum in order to get his signature. After a decade, guesswork on the part of patients will no longer be an option. Why was home cultivation pulled?

Patients will need to have an answer if they hope to convince any of those 14 current supportive senators to author a stand-alone bill for getting the home cultivation rights that passed on the full floor of the senate in 2009. They will be asking for a "copy and paste bill" that would be one of the most conservative in the country, just as it would have been 10 years ago.

You must already know that patients are going broke "affording" the full price of their expensive NJ medical cannabis. Most are not able to afford their full recommended dosage as it is. Some are dying in unnecessary discomfort. The average amount purchased per month is less than 1/2 ounce (as per DOH), a fraction of the allowed dosage. This is deadly serious. Patients and their families are currently embarking on a public video campaign to bring their misery into the public light. It would be nice to have an explanation as to why this is happening when home cultivation could have prevented the majority of that suffering in the first place.

My domestic partner Jim Miller is the co-founder of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana NJ (CMMNJ), a 501c3 non-profit organization since 2004. He will be accompanying me to any meetings as he is the source of my information and can offer accuracy as to the history of this problem.

If you need to know anything else please let me know. My reply will be immediate this time.

Regards,

Cathi Cathi feels that she has established enough of an email trail to make a solid case that she is being ignored by her assembly representative, Herb Conaway. That signals that it is now time for Conaway's assembly colleagues to start getting emails from THEIR constituents, asking them to engage Conaway about why he refuses to divulge this information to constituents or patients. Those colleagues of his will now be able to use Cathi D.'s letpatientsgrownj.com email trail as verification of the need for them to ask Conaway for an answer on behalf of all patients. Their constituent emails will make it quite clear that any refusal to help or refusal to engage their constituents about this will be on display publicly as well.

#LetPatientsGrowNJ #JeffsLaw




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