Advocates back NJ medical marijuana

March 22, 2011 3:42:18 PM PDT
When the state announced it had approved six sites in New Jersey to grow and dispense medical marijuana it was good news for Stephen Cuspilich of Southampton. The father of three suffers from Crohn's disease, arthritis and other ailments and knows pot can relieve his symptoms.

"It stops the stomach cramping; it stops the nausea, the throwing up," Cuspilich said.

The news was not so good for the mayor of Bellmawr, who learned in the paper one of the marijuana treatment centers will be located in his town.

"Don't you think the mayor or council or chief of police should be sitting down beforehand , before they come out with a statement saying Bellmawr is a site for a marijuana growing treatment plant and explain, so we can explain to the public?" Mayor Frank Filipek said.

Compassionate Care Foundation, the group that wants to open the regional facility in Bellmawr, says it learned just yesterday it'd been selected from a pool of applicants and will gladly undergo local scrutiny.

David Knowlton of the Foundation says residents should look at the center the way they would any pharmaceutical facility that brings jobs and tax revenue.

"This is not some lightweight recreational drug facility. This is a serious approach to, in my opinion, a much-needed medication," Knowlton said.

The six treatment centers statewide will sell three kinds of marijuana with limited potency. The pot will be available to patients with only 14 conditions including cancer and MS and only with a doctor's prescription.

"Medical marijuana in New Jersey will be the most regulated, tightly controlled marijuana on the planet. It's more carefully controlled than morphine or oxycontin," Chris Goldstein of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana said.

Once the regulations are all finalized, the state health department says the alternative treatment centers could be legally selling pot to patients by the end of summer.

The successful applicants are:

Breakwater Alternative Treatment Center, Corp., Ocean, Central Region; Board of Trustees/Officers: Richard Lefkowitz, CEO; H. Alexander Zaleski, COO. The ATC would be located in Manalapan, Monmouth County.

Compassionate Care Centers of America Foundation Inc. (CCCAF), Jersey City, Central Region; Board of Directors: David Weisser, Michael Weisser and Anastasia Burlyuk. The ATC would be located in New Brunswick, Middlesex County.

Compassionate Care Foundation Inc., West Trenton, Southern Region; Board of Trustees: William J. Thomas, David Knowlton, James C. Herrmann, Ann Marie Hill, Jeffrey Warren, JoAnn Lange, Mark Dumoff. The ATC would be located in Bellmawr, Camden County.

Compassionate Sciences, Inc. ATC, Sea Cliff, NY, Southern Region; Board of Trustees, CEO Richard Taney, Dr. Steven Paterno, CFO Jack Burkolder; Webster Todd. The location of the ATC is undetermined, but will be located in either Burlington or Camden County.

Foundation Harmony, Cliffside Park, Northern Region; Board of Directors: Maria Karavas, Ida Umanskaya, Margarita Ivanova and Dmitri Bajanov. The ATC would be in Secaucus, Hudson County.

Greenleaf Compassion Center, Montclair, Northern Region; Board of Trustees: Joseph Stevens, president, CEO; Jordan A. Matthews, Robert J. Guarino. The ATC would be in Montclair, Essex County.