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Medical Pot Facilities Struggle To Find A Home In NJ [AUDIO]

Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images

Plumsted is the latest town to block a medical marijuana facility from coming to town. Township Committeeman Jack Trotta said a municipal ordinance was approved, that if adopted at the meeting next week, would block the Land-Use Board from approving applications that violated local, state or federal law. The vote was 3-2.

The ordinance makes no mention of marijuana, but he says it would prevent such a facility from operating within the town.

Turnout was light at the Ocean County meeting, where about a dozen Plumsted residents showed up along with a handful from Upper Freehold Township in Monmouth County, where there was also a recently adopted an ordinance to block anything that breaks federal law.

New Jersey’s law, adopted in January 2010, is considered to be the nation’s most stringent, limiting the drug to patients with certain conditions, including multiple sclerosis, glaucoma and terminal cancer – and only letting them have recommendations to use it from doctors they have been seeing for at least a year. Advocates say the drug can help ease conditions such as nausea and pain.

In October, the zoning board in Maple Shade Township ruled that a combination growing facility and dispensary was not an appropriate use for a vacant building that once housed a furniture store.

More recently, Upper Freehold Township officials adopted an ordinance that would block the town from approving anything that breaks federal law. Breakwater Alternative Treatment Center had announced plans to grow medical marijuana in greenhouses on a farm in the community.

State Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-15) , the prime sponsor of New Jersey’s medical marijuana law, says its unfortunate that it has taken nearly two years for patients to get the treatment they need for their illnesses.

“I think we have given Governor Christie plenty of latitude to get the program up and running…I think we need to quicken the pace a little bit here.”

Gusciora says towns should not be concerned about lack of security or a police presence. “This is not going to increase anybody’s property taxes if they need to get over and above extra police force…this is part of the program that they’re gonna have be self-contained with their own security mechanisms.”

Roseanne Scotti with New Jersey Drug Policy Alliance of New Jersey is optimistic we will see alternative treatment centers approved soon in the state. “There are 566 municipalities in the state and the fact that two are three of them are considering ordinances, I don’t see as a problem…I think Montclair is close to getting final approval and I think these centers will find a home somewhere in the state that welcomes them in.”

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