Bellmawr, NJ Medical Marijuana Dispensary Reps Answer Public's Questions

NEW JERSEY: With plans to open the second medical marijuana dispensary in South Jersey, representatives from Compassionate Sciences reported to Thursday’s borough council meeting, answering questions on the future facility’s proximity an elementary school, as well as security and quality of life issues.

Only a single resident raised concerns during the meeting about opening the dispensary in Bellmawr, which has already received the necessary approvals from the borough, as well as a green light on its business plan from Trenton. However, Kathy Powers, who said she lives near the proposed site of the facility with her family, had many questions.

“It’s just up the road from (Bellmawr Park Elementary) school — I just want to know what’s going to be there,” she began.

William Statter, executive director and chairman of the board at Compassionate Sciences, stressed that none of the patients entering the dispensary’s office will be “walk-ins,” but in fact will be required to have a state ID card and recommendation form their primary care physician “before they even get through the door.”

“They will be counseled; they will get a requisition from an approved physician — a requisition and on a prescription, because we’re not a pharmacy,” said Statter. “The person will be counseled in our office before it is determined the appropriate kind of cannabis for the patient.

“Typically, a physician won’t know what different strengths — low, medium or high strength — that are needed.”

Andrei Bogolubov, another Compassionate Sciences representative at the meeting, added that the people arriving at the facility with their doctors “are not suffering from drug addiction.”

“They will have a very narrow field of symptoms that have already been approved by the state,” he said.

According to Bogolubov, qualified patients would be able to procure cannabis in lozenge, topical cream or “raw” (smokable) form.

Other questions concerned the security of the facility itself, as well as the possibility of those leaving the office becoming a target of thieves and drug addicts.

Police Chief William Walsh stated the dispensary will have up to 20 cameras providing 24-hour surveillance, including two cameras “monitored by the state.”

“We’re also looking into the possibility of two borough cameras that will be installed at (Compassionate Science’s) expense,” said Walsh.

The chief also downplayed fears of patients becoming victimized between the office door and their vehicle.

“You can leave Walgreens with Percocet and have the same chance of being a target,” he said.

At that point, Mayor Frank Filipek cut in, stating the marijuana provided by the dispensary will be “one-third the strength of what’s on the street.”

“The reason we’re for this is because they went through the whole process,” he added. “And as for the distance to the school, it’s within enough distance so that there’s no violation.”

Filipek later added, “You’ll never know it’s there.”

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