ATLANTIC CITY — Robert Seeley, of Tuckerton, will be the first patient Saturday at Compassionate Care Foundation’s new medical marijuana dispensary on the Boardwalk.

He also was the first patient at CCF’s first dispensary in Egg Harbor Township when it opened in 2013, he said.

“It means I can be out in this wonderful, beautiful world,” Seeley said of his medical cannabis use. “If I didn’t have it, I would be locked up in my house like a hermit. It makes me alive.”

Atlantic City’s first medical marijuana dispensary opened its doors to media and officials Friday, a day before opening for business.

Medical cannabis helps the Iraq War veteran with the racing mind, anxiety and sleeping disorders that come with post-traumatic stress disorder, he said.

It is the only pharmaceutical he uses for PTSD, Seeley said. It allows him to avoid taking other legal drugs for anxiety, such as tranquilizers, that can lead to addiction.

Called The Botanist by Compassionate Care Foundation, the new dispensary is near South Carolina Avenue and the Boardwalk. Only those with a medical marijuana identification card, signifying they meet the criteria to buy the flower buds, can purchase cannabis there.

It includes a “Seed Bar” education station staffed by a “budtender,” who can help patients choose the best strain of cannabis for their medical needs.

“We appreciate how medicinal cannabis can benefit many people seeking relief for a range of ailments,” Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small Sr. said, adding he looks forward to the tax benefits to the city.

David Knowlton, chairman of the board of CCF, said City Council is allowed under state law to place a 2% tax on products sold at The Botanist. But council has to act to pass an ordinance, Knowlton said.

New Jersey’s Medicinal Marijuana Program expansion in the past couple of years under Gov. Phil Murphy enabled residents with a wide range of medical conditions to purchase medical cannabis. Conditions approved under the program include amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, chronic pain, intractable skeletal spasticity, cancer, glaucoma and PTSD.

CCF General Manager Cady Riley oversees the Egg Harbor Township and Atlantic City facilities. She grew up on an apple, peach and pear farm in Buena Borough and has a health care administration background.

“We always offer to assist people in finding a physician” and getting into the medical marijuana program, Riley said.

The state Department of Health runs the medical marijuana program and provides information on qualifying.

Costs per ounce vary between dispensaries in the state, with CCF charging about $472 per ounce, according to the New Jersey Division of Medical Marijuana’s April 1, 2019, Biennial Report. Other dispensaries ranged from $360 to $500 per ounce.

Terminal patients have no purchase limits, but others are limited to 3 ounces per month, Riley said.

Director of Cultivation Kyle Kirby, 30, said he has 20 to 30 different cultivars of cannabis growing at a time, but the availability changes as they come into flower at different times.

Andrea Winslow is a chemist working on developing oils and tinctures to sell to those who don’t want to smoke cannabis or deal with a raw plant. She is the manufacturing and quality assurance/quality control manager for CCF, and said such products are still under development. She hopes to have them ready for sale soon.

Tinctures are especially important for families with children with epilepsy, she said.

Manufacturing Supervisor Nathan Bone said CCF sells a “magic butter machine” that infuses chemicals from the flowers into butter or other high fat foods.

“It heats up and allows (the chemicals) to adhere,” Bone said. “Then you strain out (the plant material) and have medicated butter to ingest.”

Bone said cannabis taken as an infusion takes longer to take effect, but the effect lasts longer than inhaled cannabis.

Knowlton said the dispensary is grandfathered, so if recreational cannabis is legalized it will be able to sell to the general public.

New Jersey voters will face a referendum question on legalizing recreational marijuana this November.

Contact: 609-272-7219

Twitter @MichelleBPost

Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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