By JOANNE L. PAPAIANNI
A group of Monmouth County residents are working on a proposal to bring a dispensary for medical cannabis to Main Street in Asbury Park.
Peter Hunnewell, a principal and team leader, introduced his team at an informal information session at the Asbury Hotel last week to provide information to businesses, investors and stakeholders.
A team of doctors has joined the venture as medical advisors including Asbury Park physician, Dr. Angelo Chinnici, and four other physicians in varying fields such as neurology and obstetrics.
Hunnewell estimates it will most likely take between 18 months to two years for pending legislation to clear the way to obtain the necessary licenses and secure financial backing for the project.
Hunnewell said he and his partners are all Monmouth County natives who are now happy to be back home and especially to be opening this venture in Asbury Park.
“This is a strong community to be in, there is a lot of support,” he said.
Hunnewell said the group is only looking at medical marijuana and not adult recreational use.
All of the marijuana sold at the dispensary will be grown in New Jersey, Hunnewell said.
There are different strains of marijuana grown to address a variety of medical problems, including sleep disorders, anxiety, cancer and epilepsy.
Joshua S. Bauchner, an attorney at Ansell, Grimm and Aaron, P.C. of Ocean Township, handles cannabis issues for the firm and is legal advisor to the group.
“It’s a miracle drug,” Bauchner said. “It’s natural, plant based and non addictive. We are committed to opening a medical marijuana dispensary in Asbury Park…it’s a wonder drug.”
Bauchner cited the opioid crisis as an example of highly addictive substances.
All involved expressed support for Governor Philip Murphy who is a proponent of legalizing marijuana.
“The incredible value medical marijuana brings to cancer treatment, seizures, insomnia, the value of it is just incredible,” Bauchner said.
Another partner, Nick Zarelli, who has worked at High Times Magazine for more than a decade, is the media consultant for the group.
Zarelli said he is leaving the magazine to focus on growing and providing medical cannabis.
“Medical marijuana has taken over….we choose to do this the right way,” he says.
One thing all partners agree on is that they want to proceed “the right way” ensuring all laws are adhered to and applications and licenses obtained.
“We are a bunch of local guys trying to do good back home,” he said.
Partner Kyle Tracy, who grew up in Monmouth Beach, spent 10 years in California.
“This is a dream, this is pretty cool,” he said.
He said they were working on creating a variety of strains.
He and his wife own a medical garden in Holland where they grow different strains of medical marijuana.
“We are going to do it here in New Jersey. There is something bigger picture here, it’s a medicinal plant,” he said.
Joseph Danielson, Assemblyman for New Jersey Legislative District 17 spoke about relatives of his who have died or suffered with cancer saying he believes medical cannabis relieves the effects of chemotherapy. He supports Governor Murhpy’s efforts to legalize its use.
Murphy is expected to sign legislation on June 30 regarding the issue, which will determine how Hunnewell and the group proceeds.