Pubdate: Thu, 29 Dec 2011
Source: Asbury Park Press (NJ)
Copyright: 2011 Asbury Park Press
Author: Amanda Oglesby


PLUMSTED -- Medical marijuana farmers will find no home here until
federal and state laws are consistent in regard to the drug's use and

The Township Committee voted Wednesday night to adopt an ordinance
requiring compliance with federal law. The ordinance was drafted to
address inconsistencies in state and federal laws regarding medical
marijuana cultivation and dispensaries after a company proposed a
medical marijuana facility in neighboring Upper Freehold earlier this

"The purpose of this ordinance is about planning, not excluding,"
Plumsted Mayor Ronald Dancer said during Wednesday's meeting. "All
five members of this Township Committee are very sensitive to and
compassionate about the need for pharmaceutical drugs that can
certainly provide a quality of life."

But the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 does not permit the
medical use of marijuana, Dancer said earlier this month. New Jersey
permits the use of prescribed marijuana under the New Jersey
Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act.

Dancer said the ordinance would give the township time to impose new
zoning rules that could prevent a facility from being built close to
schools, churches and parks. Without proper planning, "you are at the
mercy of the courts or the applicant," he said.

The mayor invited Upper Freehold officials to share their residents'
concern with Plumsted's audience. Upper Freehold Mayor LoriSue Mount
and Committeeman Stephen J. Alexander said a majority of their
residents are against the proposed facilities, citing fears over
security and possible litigation.

Alexander said laws regarding medical marijuana and its cultivation
are inconsistent.

"It's absolutely not about whether this is a good treatment or a bad
treatment," said Mount, adding that the conflicting laws could result
in costly lawsuits. "We should not be the guinea pigs for implementing
this program."

Residents of both towns voiced concerns about the credibility of the
applicant for the proposed Upper Freehold facility, as well as a
facility's possible effects on local children and recovering drug addicts.

But two Plumsted committee members voted against the

Committeeman Jack Trotta read a prepared statement, saying that
"seriously sick and dying people in the state of New Jersey were
attacked" by the introduction of the ordinance.

"The first 1 1/2 hours of tonight's meeting seemed to center on
accusations against particular state-approved ATCs (alternate
treatment centers)," Trotta said before reading his statement.

The ordinance is unnecessary because medical marijuana guidelines are
strict and have received approval from state officials, Trotta said.

In addition, states are not required to enforce federal law, and
federal officials have promised not to prosecute medical marijuana
manufacturers who comply with the laws of their state, he said.

Impassioned during the reading of his statement, Trotta said his
mother suffered through two bouts with cancer and died in 2002 after
her second diagnosis.

"She suffered from extreme nausea from the chemo, and she was losing a
lot of weight," he said. "All the time (my) mom was in the various
hospitals and rehabs. She was in pain. Medical marijuana would have
eased some of that pain."

An Assembly bill sponsored by Dancer, R-Ocean, who represents the 30th
Legislative District, "could effectively kill the compassionate
marijuana law in New Jersey," Trotta said.

Bill A-4411, if passed, would give towns authority to impose stricter
security measures on alternative treatment centers.

Committeeman Herbert Marinari also voted against the ordinance, saying
he had battled cancer four times since 1980.

"I've seen the damage that cancer can do," said Marinari. "I cannot
vote for this."

The ordinance passed with votes from Dancer, Deputy Mayor David
Leutwyler and Committeeman Eric Sorchik. 
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