Fred Mogul, Reporter, WNYC News
Fred Mogul has been covering healthcare and medicine for WNYC since 2002.
Medical marijuana could get a little closer to sprouting in the Garden State, as one licensed dispensary heads to the zoning board in the town of Maple Shade, NJ.
Authorities in March licensed six non-profit alternative treatment centers across the state, but they’ve largely been in a holding pattern ever since. On Wednesday, Compassionate Sciences Inc. will be the first center to seek local approval.
The firm wants to convert an old furniture store into a 5,000 square foot center, with consulting rooms for patients to discuss the controlled substance, a lab to conduct research and, as spokesman Andrei Bogolubov describes it, a very secure vault for the marijuana.
“There's a lot of controls, a lot of safeguards, and the state's going to do a site visit to make sure those systems are in place before they issue the permit and let us open the doors,” he said.
Even if it gets a local go-ahead, Compassionate Sciences and the other approved dispensaries are still waiting for New Jersey to issue final regulations.
Each center will grow and harvest its own crop of marijuana and Bogolubov estimates it will take about nine weeks to generate enough to supply customers. About 30,000 of them are expected state-wide.
Governor Chris Christie, a former federal prosecutor, has said he would not have signed the bill into law. He wants to make sure the drug only gets to people who need it for pain relief from illnesses such as cancer and multiple-sclerosis. He said he is determined to avoid “abuses” that he said have plagued medical marijuana programs in Colorado and California.