Camden Considers Plans For A Pot Farm

Camden's Zoning Board will look at a plan to open a pot farm and medical marijuana dispensary inside two vacant buildings close to the Sears and the Campbell's Soup buildings.

There could be sparks when the plan is examined during Monday night's meeting. 


Other towns across New Jersey - including Maple Shade, Bellmawr, Westampton and Upper Freehold - have put out the "unwelcome mat" when purveyors of weed came calling during the past year.    

Frank Fulbrook, a community activist and former zoning board member, said he is working with Ilan Zaken, the owner of the vacant Sears off Admiral Wilson Boulevard, to get approvals to lease two nearby buildings to a medical marijuana operation.     The buildings previously were used to manufacture and sell hip-hop clothing.

Fulbrook said they are in a light industrial zone which he said would permit the planting, harvesting and the processing of marijuana to be used as medicine.  "Marijuana production is more of a light industrial use than agriculture," he said.  But since this is a brand new industry, he needs the board to decide whether it is appropriate for the zone.

If the board agrees, Zaken would then need to get additional approvals for a marijuana dispensary.  He plans to negotiate a lease with either Compassionate Care Foundation, of Mount Laurel, or Compassionate Sciences Inc., of Pennsauken, two non-profits that have gotten approvals under New Jersey's new medicinal marijuana program.

The sticking point has been getting local approvals.

Last week, a Westampton board denied a variance when Compassionate Care proposed opening in an empty former lighting factory.  In October, Compassionate Sciences suffered the same fate in Maple Shade.   

Both non-profits said they would be willing to enter into talks with Zaken if he gets the green light in Camden.  "We're watching with interest," said Andrei Bogolubov, Compassionate Sciences spokesman.