News Roundup & Open Thread for Wednesday, December 19, 2012


  • The Somerset County Democrats endorsed Barbara Buono for Governor.
  • Chris Christie was endorsed by the Laborers Union.
  • Is Cory Booker going to make a run for Senate instead of Governor?
  • Legal Medical Marijuana

  • From the Star ledger: Jay Lassiter has been HIV positive for 20 years, and for just as long, he has been a self-described “criminal” for buying pot to ease the gut-wrenching nausea he suffers because of his treatment. His criminal activity ended at 2:45 pm yesterday, when he walked out of Greenleaf Compassion Center after making his first legal marijuana purchase at the Bloomfield Avenue shop.
  • The Philadelphia Inquirer has an extensive story on Jay’s journey and Medical Marijuana as well.
  • Banning Minors from “Conversion Counseling”

  • An Assembly bill banning minors from undergoing “conversion therapy” counseling in an attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation could make New Jersey the nation’s second state to impose limits on the practice.
  • Has the Empire run its course?

  • NJ Biz: New Jersey’s massive network of suburban office buildings “may have run its course,” according to a new Rutgers University report that outlines the trends that have decimated the properties in less than a decade.
  • Sports Betting Suit In Court

  • AP: Pro sports leagues have experienced nearly unprecedented success despite the existence of illegal and legal gambling and therefore can’t claim harm if New Jersey legalizes sports betting, an attorney for the state argued Tuesday. “There’s no evidence that gambling has hurt the sports leagues and their reputation,” said Theodore Olson, a former U.S. solicitor general who has joined the state’s legal team. “All evidence shows sports have grown in this country alongside the growth of gambling, some legal, some not legal. Illegal gambling on the Super Bowl has made the Super Bowl the most watched event on TV in the world.”
  • More Women Should Run For Office

  • More women should run for elective office, because “we have a different way of seeing things, we have a different set of priorities,” according to former Gov. Christie Whitman.
  • Longshoremen’s strike looming

  • The threat of a longshoremen’s strike this year once again looms over ports from Maine to Texas, after contract talks that had already been extended 90 days broke down once again yesterday. About 15,000 members of the International Longshoremen’s Association, including 3,500 dockworkers in the Port of New York and New Jersey, could walk of the job as of Dec. 29, when the extension expires.
  • Gun Buy Back Nets 1,137 guns

  • A two-day gun buyback program in Camden brought in a record-sized arsenal and authorities believe Friday’s mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school may have been a motivating factor.
  • Sandy Changes Holiday Travel

  • Superstorm Sandy may have had a slight impact on how New Jerseyans are traveling this holiday season, according to the findings of a AAA New Jersey travel survey.
  • Transfer Police IA To The AG?

  • The internal affairs functions of every law enforcement agency in New Jersey would be transferred to the Attorney General’s Office under a bill proposed by an assemblyman, who contends politics and bias too often creep into investigations when police departments police themselves.
  • Comments (14)

    1. KendalJames

      The NRA plans to spend $2 million on lobbying in the coming year. How about a national gun buyback program instead?

    2. interested observer (Post author)

      Here are a few more stories:

    3. Steve Sweeney wants towns to stop beach fees in order to get aid.
    4. Senator Lesniak has a bill that would recognize violence as a public health issue in NJ.
    5. A chance meeting at a WWE event in Newark has inspired Sandy-ravaged fire department to ‘pay forward’ donation.
    6. The American Conservative Union (ACU) has rated NJ Legislators.
    7. Challenger Ruben Bermudez was elected Vineland mayor in Tuesday’s special runoff election, according to unofficial tallies.

    8. Reply
  • 12mileseastofTrenton

    Can Sweeney’s ironworkers be far behind?

  • DSWright
  • carolh

    to stop the craziness in a lot of towns.  I say this as someone who was the victim of police intimidation for political purposes this past year by the same department who saw fit to arrest an investigator from the AG’s office for serving a warrant to a town judge.  That is how screwed up these towns are.  It’s like the wild west.  Some of these towns need outside help.  

  • Bertin Lefkovic

    …do Jay and other HIV positive pot smokers take?  I ask, because I had a conversation with an HIV positive friend of mine about his treatment regimen and whether he needs to smoke pot to alleviate the side effects and he said that he didn’t and that HIV drugs have come a long way over the last decade or so to the point that he was not aware of any HIV drugs that were so toxic that smoking pot was necessary.

    It is important to note that this friend is someone with whom I have smoked pot with recreationally in the past (far too long ago sadly) and neither of us have any opposition to anyone doing this for any reason, medicinal or otherwise.  I also remember that when my mother was undergoing chemotherapy for her breast cancer, she had the option of taking one of many different anti-nauseal drugs, including marinol, a synthetic version of marijuana.

    I am not looking to reopen the debate over whether marijuana should be legal for medicinal purposes, but I would like to be educated somewhat about whether or not it is actually still necessary or if this has all just been an exercise designed to pave the way for complete and total decriminalization at some point in the future in the way that it has been in other states.

    Also, because cancer and HIV treatment regimens probably require someone to smoke marijuana on a daily basis, I am also somewhat concerned about the risk of other health problems related to smoking marijuana rather than baking it into brownies or other baked goods.

    Times may have changed since the last time that I toked, but when I did, my friends and I never smoked more than once a week, if that, and even that became pretty rough on the lungs to the point that we smoked less and less and baked more and more.  What is the norm for people who have to do it every day?

  • A New Jersey Farmer

    Unless Booker pulls a last minute switch, it looks like Barbara Buono will be the most experienced Democrat in the field. I won’t support Sweeney and can’t really think of any others that would rock the race.

  • Bertin Lefkovic

    …that Sweeney is going to run for Governor next year if he cannot count on the full support of the Building and Construction Trades.

    Is Buono going to run unopposed?  The Somerset County Dems seem to think so.  Normally, they have a very open endorsement process that usually includes waiting until after the filing deadline so that every prospective candidate gets the opportunity to make their case to county committeepersons.

    I guess that they figure that what’s good for the political machines that run our state’s blue county party organizations is good for the grassroots Democrats who run our state’s red county party organizations and maybe they’re right.  Unfortunately, even if they are, they still aren’t behaving particularly small-d democratically.  I hope that this isn’t a harbinger of an even more regressive political environment in the state to come, where you cannot even count on red county Democrats to set the small-d democratic standard for the rest of our otherwise corrupt state.

  • Jay Lassiter

    …and ask him?

    You say you’d like to be educated but it sounds to me like you’re just sniffing around looking for trouble.

    it’s none of your business what meds i take.  i am glad your friend tolerated his HIV meds better than I do.  he’s lucky.  

  • Bertin Lefkovic

    I am trying to understand more about this issue, Jay, because I find it amazing, although not necessarily unbelievable, that one person, you, could have to take nine drugs a day when another person, my friend, only has to take one.  I understand that one of the things that made the virus so difficult to treat when it was first discovered was its ability to mutate.  Are the variants of virus strains so disparate that the treatments required for them would be equally disparate?

    Is it possible that there is also a vicious cycle at work here, especially for someone who first contracted the virus decades ago when HIV medications were far more toxic and definitely required self-medication of marijuana to tolerate them?  I know that when I used to smoke marijuana occasionally, I was more prone to chest congestion and throat infection than I have been since I met my anti-pot smoking wife and the friend with whom I would smoke most often moved away and I stopped doing it.

    Based on this anecdotal experience, I can only imagine the effect that pot-smoking must have on someone whose immune system has been compromised and suppressed by HIV.  I am not trying to make an argument here against medicinal marijuana.  I get that the wasting effect of HIV drugs is far more problematic than whatever problems daily pot smoking might cause and that tradeoffs like these are part and parcel of being HIV positive, but I also wonder if daily pot smoking makes combination therapies less effective, preventing someone from scaling down their drug regimen from nine drugs to one.

    I am also curious if the anti-nauseal drugs like marinol that were made available to my mother when she was undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer are also available to people with HIV and if they are, why they aren’t a better option than marijuana.  I am not trying to put you on the spot here, Jay, but you are the closest that Blue Jersey has to an expert on this issue and since it is really not the subject of debate anymore, we should be able to have a frank and open discussion on some of the nuances inherent within it, particularly in an environment such as this where we are all on the same side of the issue.

    If I had a doctor at the moment, I would ask her/him, but I don’t.  I guess that I could ask my children’s pediatrician, but I am not sure how much she knows about these issues.  As someone who has been living them for the last 20 years, I think that you probably know more about it than she does, but I guess that I could be wrong about that.

    Another question that I have has to do with the economics of marijuana.  According to the article, you paid $480 for 3/4 of an ounce.  When I used to smoke pot, my friends and I could get it for $200 an ounce.  I don’t know how much the price has gone up over the last decade or so, but I always thought that legal pot was going to be much cheaper than illegal pot.  Do you have any idea as to why that is not the case?

    Also, I understand that you are being charged sales tax, which clearly sucks, because no other prescription drug is taxed.  Is medicinal marijuana covered under any health insurance prescription drug plans?  If not, that really sucks as well.

  • Rosi Efthim

    Jay’s status as a very public advocate for a working NJ medical marijuana program, and his self-disclosed HIV status, do not mean he has to answer your questions or provide details about any of his medical experiences.  

  • Bertin Lefkovic

    If Jay doesn’t want to write about his personal experiences, he can write from the expertise and knowledge base that he posseses as an advocate on these issues.  I am just trying to get a better understanding of the nuances related to this issue that may not normally get discussed.

    I am sure that there are very good reasons why one person who is HIV positive takes nine drugs, while another person only takes one, just as I am sure that there are very good reasons why someone would choose to smoke pot to alleviate their nausea rather than anti-nauseal drugs like marinol, just as I am sure that there are very good reasons why legal pot would be more expensive than illegal pot, although that probably puzzles me more than anything else.

    Since Jay is Blue Jersey’s resident medicinal marijuana advocate and expert, I see no reason why he couldn’t or shouldn’t answer these questions using his own personal experiences or not.

  • deciminyan

    Jay is not Blue Jersey’s resident marijuana expert. He’s a courageous individual who advocates for many causes, one of which is medicine for those who needs it. He can choose to reveal as much or as little as he chooses to whoever he chooses.

    I’m not a doctor, but I know that people with chronic medical conditions should not all be lumped together. Treatment that works for one person may be ineffective or harmful to others with the same condition.

    As long as Jay sticks to facts, which he’s done here, his contributions to Blue Jersey are valuable and thought-provoking.

  • Bertin Lefkovic

    I do not care if Jay reveals anything about himself or just writes based on what he knows about the subject.  Whether you want to call him Blue Jersey’s resident medicinal marijuana expert or not, he knows more about this issue than anyone else here.

    I am not trying to lump anyone together.  I am simply trying to understand more about HIV so that it can make sense to me how one person can be treated with one pill a day, while there are still others who require nine pills a day; or why marijuana would be a better anti-nauseal treatment than marinol; or why someone who has to use marijuana daily would choose to smoke it and incur all of the health risks associated with it, instead of baking it into brownies or making it into tea; or why legal marijuana is more expensive than illegal marijuana.

    I spent some time on WebMD to try to get some answers to these questions, but that site was as helpful as stereo instructions.  I don’t think that I ever wrote that Jay’s contributions to Blue Jersey were not valuable or thought-provoking.  I just asked for information and I do not understand why Jay needs to be so evasive or you and Rosi feel the need to be so protective.

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