Zoning board turns down 1st NJ medical pot site

October 12, 2011 8:34:30 PM PDT
A southern New Jersey zoning board has rejected a plan to set up the state's first medical marijuana dispensary in town.

Compassionate Sciences Alternative Treatment Center made its pitch Wednesday night to the zoning board in Maple Shade. and residents packed the room.

One of them, Jim Quick, held a sign that simply read 'a medical marijuana facility is a joint this town could do without.' "If they want it so bad for medical purposes, and I hope it does help somebody, but put it in a hospital surrounding," Quick said. The treatment center is one of six awarded a license in the state to sell pot to patients.

Its officials are making the case that its facility would be a permissible use in a business zone along Route 73, not far from Exit 4 of the New Jersey Turnpike.

The nonprofit organization stated its case saying state law is the toughest in the country- it is not allowed to advertise, there will be state of the art security, and marijuana will not be grown at the site.

"These are very tough rules that are meant to have a medical model and not to be a program that could be used by recreational users who can gain the system," Andrei Bogolubov of Compassionate Sciences said.

Jim Miller, cofounder of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana, made headlines in 1993 when he started his fight for a dispensary by pushing his wife's wheelchair across the state.

She had multiple sclerosis and he says cannabis helped with her pain. His wife died 10 years ago.

"I wanted to see one dispensary open somewhere. I feel like maybe I can rest a little bit then," Miller said.

Some Maple Shade residents told Action News they're okay with the plan.

"As long as they do it in a permissible way, it's fine with me. I don't think it should bother anybody," said Latoya Spencer.

"It can really help, you konw. Cancer patients, people who lose their appetites, stuff like that," said John Housley.

But residents who spoke out during the hearing are afraid of the stigma and what the center could bring including crime.

"This is like Main Street USA, it does not belong here, it just does not belong here," resident Jackie Newell said.

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The Associated Press contributed to the report.


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