The medical marijuana dispensary that opened in Camden County in September 2015 is the busiest of the five that have opened in New Jersey since the program began seven years ago, according to a Department of Health annual report.
Compassionate Sciences Alternative Treatment Center, in an industrial park in tiny Bellmawr, served 2,762 patients and sold nearly 885 pounds of cannabis in 2016, the report said. The state had nearly 10,800 registered patients as of the end of last year.
Craig West, the dispensary operations manager, said Thursday the major reason is that Compassionate Sciences is the only one in the state to offer cannabis extracts to its patients. “Probably between 20 and 30 percent of our patients purchase extracts,” he said, adding that “hundreds of patients travel two hours from the tippy-top of the state” to obtain the extracts.
The first cannabis-infused lozenges were approved for sale in the state last October. At that time, the dispensary was selling a bottle of 30 grape- or cherry-flavor lozenges for $75, or $60 if patients qualify for financial assistance, according to a notice sent out to patients.
West declined to provide prices Thursday but said the lozenges are made using a sophisticated CO² extraction process. The lozenges were described as “soft tablets (troches) formulated to dissolve slowly in your mouth. ”
None of the other dispensaries have been approved to sell extracts, though at least two submitted applications. Donna Leusner, spokesperson for the Health Department, said there are no active applications at this time.
“From a physician’s standpoint, it’s not always the best idea for a patient to smoke,” West said, noting many of the patients are elderly. Children with epilepsy also are unable to smoke marijuana, and parents have resorted to making their own extracts,