Medical marijuana centers seek to set up at two Burlington County sites

Posted: October 06, 2011

Burlington County could turn into the supply center for medical marijuana in South Jersey.

The only two nonprofits licensed by the state to operate treatment centers below Trenton have their sights set on Maple Shade and Westampton, with outlets near Exits 4 and 5 of the New Jersey Turnpike.

A zoning hearing next Wednesday in Maple Shade will consider the application of Compassionate Sciences of Sea Cliff, N.Y., to operate a dispensary at 2860 Route 73 North, site of an Office Furniture Outlet store.

"No production will occur on the site," according to a notice of public hearing.

The company has asked for a ruling that the application meets the guidelines for "professional, medical, and business offices" and "retail sales of goods."

The other group, the Compassionate Care Foundation, based in Mount Laurel, hopes this month to start converting a Westampton factory into an operation for growing, processing, and dispensing medical marijuana, according to CEO Bill Thomas.

The 50,000-square-foot building at 120 Hancock Lane was used by the Lighting Science Group Corp. to manufacture lighting equipment.

A lease has been negotiated and the foundation has been working with zoning officials. No public hearing is scheduled because no variance is required, Thomas said.

Since being named one of South Jersey's two providers, Compassionate Care has checked out about 30 sites. A deal in Bellmawr fell thorough, he said.

"We had some rejections by the landlords, no rejections by towns," Thomas said.

If all goes according to plan, the Westampton facility should be ready for patients by February, he said.

"We expect that in the first year we are going to serve 2,000 patients," Thomas said.

Methods of use vary, with glaucoma patients perhaps preferring to smoke marijuana, while those with cancer might add it to baked goods, he said. Lozenges and lotions - effective in treating spasticity, for example - are expected to be developed as well.

Patients must consult a registered physician, register with the state, and attend educational sessions. They will be eligible to pick up two ounces of marijuana a month, Thomas said.

The foundation, created by medical and nonprofit professionals, will work closely with area medical institutions, and will collect data, including demographic information.

"We're actually involved in some very serious research into the outcomes of using the drug," Thomas said. "We're not a bunch of potheads selling marijuana. That's not what this is about."


Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.

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