Rave Radio: Offline (0/0)
Email: Password:
News (Media Awareness Project) - US NJ: Medical Marijuana Program's Oversight Questioned
Title:US NJ: Medical Marijuana Program's Oversight Questioned
Published On:2011-09-20
Source:Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ)
Fetched On:2011-09-22 06:02:46

TRENTON - A state lawmaker and medical marijuana advocates Monday
accused the Christie administration of poor oversight of the state's
medical marijuana program and questioned whether background checks of
major players were being conducted.

The reaction came after The Sunday Star-Ledger reported that a member
of the medical advisory board at one of the state's medical marijuana
centers has ties to Solomon Dwek, conman and key informant in the now
infamous "Jersey Sting."

"The governor needs to do a better job backgrounding the vendors,"
said Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union), who co-sponsored the New Jersey
Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act. "It was his handpicked vendors."

Gov. Chris Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak declined to comment for
this story.

Donna Leusner, spokeswoman for the state Department of Health and
Senior Services, reiterated Monday that the vetting process is ongoing.

"Centers are still looking for a location or are negotiating with
local officials, which is why I have said that this is an ongoing
process," Leusner said. "An alternative treatment center has to inform
the department that it has located a site, gotten municipal approval
and hired staff in order for the criminal records to be checked."

On Sunday, the newspaper reported the state health department has not
issued permits for the alternative treatment centers, despite a March
announcement that seemed to solidify six applicants as operators for
the state centers.

"It sounds like they're backpedaling," Scutari said. "They went
through this arduous process. These were supposed to be the centers
they selected."

Another sponsor of the bill, Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer),
said he was surprised to see this type of "red flag" but still hopes
the centers will open "sooner rather than later."

"By all means, Gov. Christie has taken his time with making sure the
program is legitimate," he said. "That said, here's an instance where
a person they selected is now called into question."

Ken Wolski, the executive director at the Coalition for Medical
Marijuana in New Jersey, said he's disappointed and now questions what
sort of backgrounding efforts have been done -- if any.

"We're quite upset. For the Department of Health to say, ‘Well,
we didn't issue the permits, and we just approved the applications,'
that's really playing a word game," Wolski said. "Patients were very
disappointed and misled by this. We're very upset to find that no real
progress has been made since March, when the Department of Health
supposedly approved these alternative treatment centers."

At Compassionate Care Centers of America Foundation, the planned
marijuana clinic in Central Jersey, Monmouth County entrepreneur
Kenneth Cayre was set to be a potential landlord, member of the
medical advisory board and, through his foundation, a

But he was removed from the center last week when The Star-Ledger
began asking about Cayre, whom Dwek calls "Uncle Kenny" and accuses of
sharing in profits from elaborate Ponzi schemes, according to federal
bankruptcy filings.

Michael Weisser, a director at the center, said he ousted Cayre from
the organization following the paper's inquiries. Weisser and his son,
David, run a string of medical marijuana clinics in Colorado.

Cayre, who made a fortune with his brothers in the music and
video-gaming industry, is traveling abroad and did not return attempts
for comment. He has not been charged with any crime.

Attorney Yale Galanter, who represents Weisser, said he has yet to
speak directly with New Jersey state officials but has reached out to
them concerning the issue.

"My guys want to do the right thing," said Galanter. "They want to
donate lots of money to charitable organizations. They want to donate
lots of money to hospitals. We want to do everything the right way.
Everybody needs to know these programs when they're in their infancy
really go through growing pains."

The group has learned a lesson about due diligence because of this
situation, said Galanter, a prominent Miami defense attorney who
gained fame by representing O.J. Simpson in the past decade.

"We never imagined we would do criminal background checks on people we
put medical advisory boards," he said. "Now there isn't going to be a
human being that Compassionate Care comes into contact with that we're
not going to do a background check on."
Member Comments
No member comments available...