Rallying for Medical Marijuana Use

California resident Eric Hafner hosted a rally outside of the Middletown courtroom at which supporters protested charges against him for possessing medical marijuana.

Eric Hafner had one of his days in court today concerning the charges of possession of under 50 grams of marijuana and paraphernalia lodged against him by in .

And he will be back again on March 27 at 6 p.m., when he says discovery evidence will show the court that he had a prescription from his native state of California to possess and use medical marijuana.

He plans to prove that it is, or should be, alright for him to apply the California laws of use in New Jersey, since the medical marijuana was prescribed there. In California, the marijuana can be used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. In New Jersey, while there is a list of acceptable debilitating illnesses for which sufferers can be prescribed the medical marijuana, or cannabis, post-traumatic stress disorder, which is what Hafner has been diagnosed with, is not one of them.

In Middletown, NJ, those different laws apply and Hafner, when he appeared before Middletown Municipal Judge Richard Thompson this morning, Hafner first had some issues concerning discovery (of evidence) that he told the judge he needed to iron out with Middletown Municipal Prosecutor Gerald Massell.

"Court has nothing to do with discovery," Judge Richard Thompson said. "That is between Mr. Massell and Mr. Hafner."

So, the night court date was set and the two were told by the judge to go and discuss the discovery matter privately.

"I requested discovery (from Middletown) in January and received it on March 5, though it was dated March 1," Hafner said outside of the courtroom before the discussion took place. "The prosecutor requested it from me last week."

Hafner, in the discussion, was offered a plea deal to plead guilty and pay fines, which he refused. He has opted to have a municipal hearing, entering the discovery documents, on the March 27 date. If he had accepted the deal, the additional appearance would have been cancelled.

Hafer carried with him documentation of his legal medical marijuana use from California. A copy of his California identification was affixed to a letter from his physician, William S. Eidelman, M.D., who stated the following in a letter dated Jan. 24, 2012:

"Eric Hafner is under my medical care. He reports that cannabis relieves his medical symptoms. I recommend/approve of my patient's use of cannabis, pursuant to Health and Safety Code Section 11362.5, otherwise known as the Compassionate Use Act.

"If Mr. Hafner chooses to use cannabis/marijuana therapueutically, I will continue to monitor his condition and provide advice on his progress. This letter is valid for one year."

In New Jersey, state Department of Health and Senior Services decides which illnesses belong on the list of those acceptable from treatment with cannabis. Illnesses may be added, as officials in the department see fit.

So, Hafner and his supporters organized a rally in support of adding PTSD to that list. They walked along Kings Highway, outside of the Middletown courtroom buidling, before during and after his case was being heard, showing signs and offering information about the cause and Hafner's case to anyone who stopped by to listen.

"Multiple schlerosis is covered," said protesting multiple schlerosis patient Charles Kwiatkowski, of Hazlet. "Nothing much is covered at this time — not PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). It should be. There are vets returning from Iraq who have PTSD and they're killing themselves. This treatment option should be available."

Hafner was charged in late November, 2011 with possession of under 50 grams of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia as a passenger in his friend Matthew Olson's car. The charges against Olson for possession of drug paraphernalia — Hafner's marijuana pipe — were dismissed by the prosecutor, "so he can get on with his service in the military (Marines)," Middletown Judge Richard Thompson said.

Olson's charge was one that based on what is called constructive possession. When an illegal item, such as the pipe, is found in someone's car, for instance, everyone in the car is usually charged, according to police.

Hafner’s Facebook page claims:

“New Jersey legalized Medical Marijuana in 2010, yet over 2 years later the Department of Health and Senior Services has failed to implement the law. A recent Rutgers-Eagleton Poll (Nov 11) found that 86% of New Jersey voters support legal medical marijuana. The people of New Jersey are vehemently opposed to this unjust prosecution being undertaken in their name and demand the charges against Mr. Hafner be dropped without delay.”

Possession of under 50 grams of marijuana is a disorderly persons offense in New Jersey.

Do you think Hafner has a legitimate case or do you think his use was illegal and he should be penalized? Tell us in the poll below.

Charles M. Kwiatkowski March 12, 2012 at 04:23 PM
I wanna thank everyone for showing such a great sign of support today (because we did have 15+ activists/mmj patients + 5 news reporters) it was a small success for NJ Medical Marijuana. First off Eric sat with the prosecuters of Middletown who offered the standard "Plea Deal" they offer all convictions.. Once Eric refused to accept any Plea Deal for his less than 1 gram of marijuana this prosecutor was unable to convict Eric and is now handing it over to his boss of Monmouth County Prosecutors office Peter E. Warshaw, Jr., Prosecutor: Christopher Gramiccioni, First Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Clark, Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor to come up with a decision. So as for Eric being convicted today it was now passed on to the next discussion to be held on March 27, 2012 @ 6:00 PM again in Middletown Court.. So between now and March 27th we need as many phone calls into this prosecutors offices @ Phone: (732) 431-7160 x7522. Explain to them the importance of medical marijuana for our returning veterans of Iraq/Afghanistan. Please call them before March 27 to show your support for PTSD and Eric Hafner. registerd medical marijuana patient of CA and long resident of NJ. Eric & our returning Vets are hoping you please make this call. See you all on March 27ty @ 6:00 PM. Please make the call! Thank you, Charles M. Kwiatkowski
rebecca ellis March 13, 2012 at 02:49 AM
The marijuana charges are bogus and should be dropped. PTSD urgently needs to be placed on that list. Ive grown up my entire 39 yrs of life knowing the effects of PTSD. My father and family and friends suffer. And we suffer with them. Smoking cannabis has been a life saver. Literally. My friend Andrew was blown up 4 times. He freaks out hard alot. Marijuana is the best med to help prevent it from happening so often. I am the chapter founder and leader of Arkan sas Moms For Marijuana. And we support legalization. My personal email is ellis_rebecca@ymail.com
Ken Wolski March 14, 2013 at 03:10 AM
I applaud Mr. Hafner's courageous stand. It's common sense, really--a patient's diagnosis and treatment plan does not change because the patient crossed a state line. 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. More of CMMNJ's letter of 3/22/12 in support of Mr. Hafner is at: http://cmmnj.blogspot.com/search/label/Eric%20Hafner
Ken Wolski March 14, 2013 at 05:03 PM
The above poll shows that 84% of respondents agree that "the use of medical marijuana for post-traumatic stress disorder should be legal in New Jersey." Of course, this is an unscientific poll yet the results are remarkably similar to the scientific Rutgers Eagleton poll of November 2011 that showed 86% of voters in NJ support medical marijuana: http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~redlawsk/EP/Tables2012/MarijuanaNov2011.pdf
Bob Strong February 11, 2014 at 11:32 PM
I can't believe that two states have already made medicinal marijuana legal. The country is making surprising changes. I never would have thought that this would have happened five years ago. http://www.armstrongstaysafe.com.au


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