Camden, long considered one of the nation's most dangerous cities, snubbed a proposed medical marijuana business this week, saying it's just not a good fit.
Frank Fulbrook, a community activist who has been promoting the business since last summer, now says he won't appeal the decision issued by the zoning board. A charter school, he said, is interested in the two vacant buildings off Federal Street where he had wanted to open a cannabis farm and marijuana dispensary.
Fulbrook declined to name the school, saying negotiations are underway. But he's still fuming over the board's rejection. "Medical marijuana was our first choice," he said.
Two years ago, New Jersey enacted a law to allow marijuana sales for people who are sick and dying. Medical experts say it alleviates severe pain and nausea and stimulates the appetite for chemotherapy patients. But so far, the dispensaries have been unsuccessful in getting all the approvals they need to open.
Fulbrook scoffed at the objections that Cooper University Hospital raised at a recent zoning board meeting. Cooper is building a cancer institute nearby and "the people who are going to be in the institute are going to need medical marijuana because they’re getting chemo and they have uncontrolled vomiting," Fulbrook said.
Cooper spokesperson Lori Shaffer said Cooper is concerned because places outside of New Jersey that have medical marijuana are experiencing nuisance problems and "violent encounters between growers and persons attempting to steal plants."
It's a common fear heard at meetings where medical marijuana plans are unveiled - and then rejected. Dispensaries in California have a bad reputation.
But these fears are grounded in ignorance, say supporters of New Jersey's law. The regulations in the Garden State are quite stringent and comprehensive. Medical marijuana is sorely needed if only it is given a chance, supporters say. Even in a community that is one of the country's most dangerous.