Letter: Against The Medical Marijuana Dispensary

By on June 2, 2020

Dear Council Members,

As a concerned Verona citizen, I am disappointed in the Verona Council’s attempt to fast track a serious issue regarding the placement of a medical marijuana facility run by a company that is a for-profit business. GTI is a corporation and will act as such for its investors. The manner in which this issue is being very quickly resolved is curious. A special Verona Council meeting was held on May 21st, followed by another on May 28th and now you are looking at a final vote by June 8th. During a pandemic and widespread social unrest, I don’t think most Verona residents are focused on this matter. This is a disturbingly fast process when you consider the business we are
dealing with here.

Speaking to my neighbors, I found they were not against adults using marijuana, but did not want their children exposed to it. When one looks at the menu of GTI’s Paterson facility which includes enticing names for marijuana products such as “School Lunch” and “Jelly Belly”, it is not hard to figure out who their marketing ultimately aims to entice. I doubt that they are doing this branding to stimulate the appetites of cancer patients with these types of names. If it is’t OK for “Big Tobacco” to deceptively market to children, then why is it OK for “Big Weed”? THEN How were these realities left out of the GTI representative’s presentation on May 21st, if she were aiming for total transparency?

One of the more memorable statements made by the GTI representative was that marijuana is no more addictive than coffee. The DSM-5 (the manual doctors and insurance companies use to diagnose a patient) identifies cannabis addiction as a real affliction. “Individuals who regularly use cannabis can develop all the general diagnostic features of a substance use disorder.” The DSM-5 also details that many of the ailments which marijuana adherents state their drug cures are in fact ailments which can be caused or exacerbated by marijuana usage. Anxiety, schizophrenia, psychotic disorders and disrupted cognitive functioning can all be brought on or worsened by marijuana usage. GTI claims marijuana is no more dangerous than coffee.

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Big corporations found a way to make the addictive element of coffee, caffeine, the basis of a whole new market and energy drink addiction became a real thing. I suspect the same game plan will be followed by marijuana growers with respect to enhancing THC levels. In the 1990s THC levels were 4 percent, now they are 15 percent on average. Doctors are now witnessing the negative effects of this development. If you really care about those who are disabled and need marijuana, let them grow it at home so they are not price-gouged. Many voters support this idea, but politicians who know legalized marijuana is the next big tax revenue don’t want to hear it.

The lawyer who represents GTI said he helped choose Verona for the type of community it embodies. Is the selection of Verona really about our community values? Or, is it a way to have our town’s image legitimize this money-making drug dispensary under its facade of merely wanting to help people like myself who are disabled? Another deceptive GTI argument is that marijuana has a long place in the annals of medicinal treatment. So do other drugs which were permitted at some point for commercial consumption like heroin, cocaine and lithium. Public condemnation
ultimately led to their deserved illegal status.

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Residents in Paterson, one of GTI’s first New Jersey locations, were upset as well by the placement of a RISE facility in their community according to a Paterson newspaper. GTI told the residents that they were investing $15 million dollars into the city and would create over 60 jobs. So what was the promise made by GTI to us? Will they help improve our recreation facilities or fund special school programs to help our children?

Last year the former FDA head Scott Gottlieb warned of the potential harm of the widespread use of cannabis and that we are “conducting a widespread experiment of THC on the public by making it broadly available.” I don’t want my kids along for this experiment, as I recognize that the adults who foisted this on us will have no responsibility for the consequences.

Regards,
MaryAnne Kenny Maher

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13 Comments

  1. John Gasiewski

    June 2, 2020 at 9:37 pm

    I strongly support the comments of this letter writer. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with many years of experience, I have directly seen the depression and psychosis that marijuana use can lead to. At a training last year on substance abuse, the presenter, who is a national authority on the subject, warned about the highly concentrated nature of marijuana in terms of THC content. He also cautioned about the severe impact on the community that legalization has had on states where this has occurred, citing skyrocketing accident rates in, for instance, Colorado. Lastly, the Vape shops on Bloomfield Ave are businesses whose ethics I’d have to question quite strongly. Were they not the same shops selling Juul cartridges just recently? Is this the kind of industry that we want in our town?

  2. Dan Motley

    June 2, 2020 at 10:57 pm

    I am more than sure the crime rate will go up in that area when people obtain their “legal marijuana” and get robbed of it by drug users who can not afford to pay their prices. Its already happened many times in many states. This is a huge mistake Verona.

  3. James

    June 3, 2020 at 2:20 am

    Meh, bars exist, and kids get drunk.
    Mmj shops are tightly controlled, and won’t let you in unless you have a card.

  4. Jonathan

    June 3, 2020 at 3:14 am

    wow! Get informed lady! This was so sad to read. Someone so uninformed on the issue is going to speak on what cancer patients want their medicine called!?!?! Kids can’t get into the facility, Purchases are monitored and limited. So how is one to procure marijuana for themselves and these “kids”? They won’t!

  5. Marie Tudisco

    June 3, 2020 at 3:24 am

    I would very much welcome a State Approved Medical Cannabis dispensary here in Verona. It would be convenient for me a Parkinson’s patient who suffers from the pain and debilitation of Dystonia. I benefit greatly from this already approved medication and I am under the supervision of several Medical Doctors and specialists in Neurology and Pain management.

  6. Virginia Citrano

    June 3, 2020 at 7:18 am

    There is only one vape shop on Bloomfield Avenue now, and it sells non-intoxicating CBD products, not THC. (Other Verona businesses also sell CBD products and vaping equipment.) As for Colorado, while some news reports did highlight increased traffic accidents, when the University of Oregon did a controlled study, it found no significant impact. The traffic studies only referenced recreational marijuana, which Colorado legalized in 2012, two years after it legalized medical marijuana. Only medical marijuana is now legal in New Jersey, and Verona will be able to block the sale of recreational marijuana even if voters legalize in in this November’s election.

  7. Jennifer Williams

    June 3, 2020 at 9:16 am

    More like marketed to nostalgic adults – and since when can adults not like Jelly beans? But you don’t have a problem with flavored drinks like Mike’s hard lemonade? Sugary sweet and delicious – We need to stop selling this right now because kids like lemonade too! Mimosa’s? No more! Don’t you know orange juice is advertised as a breakfast option for children?

    Please do some research before you complain about a medicine which helps people for the sake of “the children” who can’t even get into the place.

  8. Robert

    June 3, 2020 at 9:42 am

    Don’t worry guys, as a medical marijuana patient, I can tell you first hand that the school lunch and jelly belly are trash strains of weed. If your kids get a hold of it, it probably won’t get them high lol. Also, that’s not Paterson Rises menu. That’s curaleaf from South Jersey. Rise is carrying curaleafs products until theirs grows.

  9. Virginia Citrano

    June 3, 2020 at 11:38 am

    This seems like as good a time as any to remind people of the Comments Policy on MyVeronaNJ:

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  10. Paul Petrangeli

    June 3, 2020 at 12:13 pm

    I strongly disagree with this letter There are over 73,000 patients alone in New Jersey. This is A pharmacy for those who cannot get medication from Walgreens prescribed opiates which are far more detrimental to your children. I have seen all the kids hang outside of Walgreens when it rains to get picked up by their parents so are we going to tell the they can’t sell Opiates. I am a parent of two young children and that lives around the corner from where this medical building will be located I have no issue with it because They do not plaster signs of their Medication and there is no way to tell it is A medical marijuana facility unless you Google the name no children or adults are allowed to Lloyd are out front of their businessI have also seen the false comments that the writer of this letter has posted on many websites take your one-sided view and become educated there are Children that need this like my younger sister so if you want to Say it’s not needed or a drug you are totally wrong and I hope you become more educated

  11. Maria

    June 3, 2020 at 2:22 pm

    This is not my research, but from the Executive Director of Cannabis Industry Victims Educating Litigators (CIVEL):

    Here are also some facts about marijuana use and kids you may also wish to consider.

    Marijuana is the number one substance found in suicides of young people in Colorado who are 15-19 years old. [1]

    In the 2018 Arizona Child Fatality Review of the substance use related deaths, marijuana use reached a high of 46% of deaths. [2]

    Marijuana related emergency room visits by Colorado teens is substantially on the rise and the teens are showing psychotic symptoms and chronic vomiting due to marijuana use. [3]

    Rates of marijuana exposures among children under the age of six has increased by 610%. In addition, 75% percent of the children ingested edible marijuana products such as marijuana-infused candy. [4]

    GTI claims that cannabis is not toxic and not addictive and has no side effects. Really?

    You only have to be 18 to get “medical” marijuana in New Jersey. I bet some of those 18 year olds have 17 and 16 year old friends. Maybe they are your kids or a neighbor’s kids.

    References

    1. Go to the below Colorado website and click on the box at the top of the page that lists “methods, circumstances and toxicology” and then click on the box for 15-19 years olds. The marijuana data will appear.

    https://cohealthviz.dphe.state.co.us/t/HSEBPublic/views/CoVDRS_12_1_17/Story1?:embed=y&:showAppBanner=false&:showShareOptions=true&:display_count=no&:showVizHome=no#4)

    2. https://www.azdhs.gov/documents/prevention/womens-childrens-health/reports-fact-sheets/child-fatality-review-annual-reports/cfr-annual-report-2018.pdf

    3.
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-marijuana-kids/marijuana-related-er-visits-by-colorado-teens-
    on-the-rise-idUSKBN1HO38A

    4. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0009922815589912

  12. Kevin Smith

    June 3, 2020 at 4:32 pm

    As someone who spent time working In the Cannabis Industry, lived In a state with recreational Cannabis, I can’t tell you how sad this makes me. People like this don’t use data or research for their arguements, it’s all fear mongering. You don’t want your kids exposed to it..? Be a better parent! I use Cannabis for chronic pain relief and the fact that you’d deny your neighbors a medication that works because you’re afraid of it, while a nation wide Opioid crisis has been happening for 15 years is disgusting.

    “I don’t want my kids exposed to Pot shops!” Trust me, having them exposed to the drug dealers is so much worse it’s not even fair to compare the two.

    If you’re so concerned they’re advertising to kids, Regulate the names they can call the product. It’s time to grow up. Your kid WILL be exposed to Alcohol, why isn’t this a problem? The double standard needs to end.

  13. MaryAnne Kenny Maher

    June 3, 2020 at 6:03 pm

    I’ve found in my experience that when people can’t offer compelling rebuttals to a reasonable argument they claim the other side “isn’t educated.” The Walgreens reference isn’t accurate. Yes, they sell opiate-based products to prescription-holders and that does help some in the midst of the current opiate crisis. But, the opiates you reference coming out of Walgreen’s 10 or 15 years ago were due to Purdue Pharma pushing them to non-debilitated medical patients in order to increase their sales. Purdue told doctors it wasn’t addictive and it was safe. They gave doctors money to prescribe it. Now, to bring this into a current-day context equate Purdue with GTI (on a smaller scale) and replaces doctors with towns and their politicians. Then add some marketing to children from Big Tobacco’s playbook. Once opiates were widely distributed in the public, then we learned the dangers of this drug. It took lawyers to bankrupt Purdue. This is where we will find the truth on marijuana as a bigger sample of the public is impacted. My views are expressed by Gregory Broderick, Obama Justice Department official in 2015 “there is sufficient evidence to support the conclusion that marijuana is a psychoactive and addictive drug and is not safe for medical use at this time, even if used under medical supervision.” Because you don’t agree with me, my comments are uneducated? My position is no more one-sided than your position which refuses to acknowledge there may be harmful effects to this drug. Also, your post ignores that all you have to do if you want access to “medical marijuana” is get in your car and drive over the hill to Montclair to get it.

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