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Plan for Marijuana Dispensary in Manalapan Raises Concerns

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News that a state-approved medicinal marijuana dispensary would be located here was met with mixed reactions.

At least two local officials – a township committeeman and a police captain – expressed concern, while two people who work near the proposed site said they aren't so worried. And the CEO of the dispensary said it would benefit the community as a whole.

Breakwater Alternative Treatment Center Corp. is among six centers in New Jersey to receive state Department of Health and Senior Services approval to distribute medical marijuana. It plans to set up shop in an office building at Route 33 and Madison Avenue, township officials said.

The marijuana would be grown at an undisclosed site in Ocean County and transported here, said Andrew Zaleski, a spokesman for Breakwater and the son of its chief operating officer, H. Alexander Zaleski.

Breakwater is represented by a former Manalapan mayor, Richard H. Klauber, an attorney with whom the center also shares an office in Ocean Township, Klauber said Tuesday.

Klauber said he is not a principal in Breakwater and did not draft its application to the state to become an approved center. He did, however, review the application, introduce Breakwater representatives to township officials, including Health Officer David Richardson, and speak with Mayor Andrew Lucas on Breakwater's behalf to alert them of the plans, Klauber said.

But some township officials said the announcement Monday that a site here had been selected by the state came as a surprise.

"It's shocking to hear that Manalapan has been named as a location for an alternative treatment center to dispense medical marijuana," Township Committeeman Ryan D. Green said in an email.

"The residents of Manalapan deserve to have their voices heard on this issue, and I'll be exploring any option at our disposal to make that possible," Green said.

State officials said a municipality still has a say in allowing the centers within its boundaries; a site may have to go before a town's Zoning Board of Adjustment for approval, said Donna Leusner, state Health Department spokeswoman.

Leusner said applicants were encouraged to meet with local officials and to continue working closely with them after the approvals. The state also will be meeting with site operators and monitoring how they are permitted to move forward, Leusner said.

Police Capt. Christopher Marsala said the department has concerns about security and the potential for robberies at the proposed location, a 16,000-square foot Madison Avenue building where the dispensary would occupy the first floor.

"Google "medical marijuana facility robbed' and see how many hits you come up with," Marsala said Tuesday. "Your head will spin."

Richard Lefkowitz, Breakwater chief executive officer, issued a statement Tuesday that the cultivation and distribution sites would use "state-of-the-art security systems" and "environmentally responsible 'green' technology" but declined to answer specific questions.

Some neighbors weren't so concerned.

"If it's done in a legal way and if it would help people, then I'm all for it," said Sandy Neiser, a manager at Access Self Storage, also on Madison Avenue. "Obviously, it does have a (movement of supporters) behind it. No one wants to be in pain."

Mike Gagliardi, 26, an employee at nearby Knob Hill Golf Club, said he wasn't concerned about the center. He said he was a bit amused that the formerly outlawed drug might now be made available in the bedroom community.

"I can't speak for the golf club, but I can speak for myself and say that's crazy," Gagliardi said. "That's actually pretty funny."

Health Officer David Richardson said he hopes to arrange a public meeting for the owners to explain their business to residents.

"We believe that this opportunity will be of great benefit for the people suffering with debilitating medical conditions as well as the community as a whole," Lefkowitz said in his statement.

Other centers were approved to open this summer in Bellmawr, New Brunswick, Montclair, Secaucus and a site to be decided in either Burlington or Camden counties. They would be the first locations since the state in 2010 approved letting chronically ill patients receive prescribed pot.

News Hawk- Jacob Husky 420 MAGAZINE
Source: app.com
Author: Alesha Williams Boyd
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Copyright: APP.com
Website: Plan for marijuana dispensary in Manalapan raises concerns
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