Six Belleville doctors are among those allowed by the state of New Jersey to recommend medical marijuana to their patients.
The Medical Marijuana Program Patient Registry began Thursday in New Jersey, as the Department of Health allows qualified patients and their caregivers to apply for identification cards.
“The Department has made every effort to make the process as user-friendly as possible,” said Health Commissioner Mary E. O’Dowd in a news release. “Registered physicians have had access to the system since July to become familiar with it and have their questions answered.”
Patients and their doctors can register through the Department of Health medical marijuana registration website.
Doctors can register patients by attesting the patient has one of the "debilitating diseases" with symptoms proven to be alleviated by marijuana.
In Essex County, the following doctors have been authorized to recommend marijuana to qualifying patients:
- John Bach, Newark, 973-972-2850
- Pedro Cabrera Bonet, West Orange, 973-243-2000
- Robert Collin, Newark, 973-483-5551
- John Conti, Belleville, 973-751-8880
- Carl DeFronzo, Newark, 973-424-0080
- Vitaly Fishbein, West Orange, 973-736-1112
- Howard Holtz, West Orange, 973-669-9797
- Zhanna Kanevsky, Newark, 973-424-0088
- German Laufer, West Orange, 973-325-1577
- Jose Leyson, Newark, 973-424-0080
- Alan Lippman, Belleville, 973-751-8880
- James Orsini, Belleville, 973-751-8880
- Said Saleh, Belleville, 973-751-8880
- Ramesh, Sawhney, West Orange, 973-763-3350
- Michael Schwarz, Bloomfield, 973-779-0019
- Bernard Spier, South Orange, 973-763-2203
- Hemalatha, Vasireddy, Belleville, 973-751-8880
- Sitamahala Yerramalli, Belleville, 973-751-8880
According to the release, "If a patient designates a caregiver to assist in the delivery of the medicinal marijuana from the Alternative Treatment Center (ATC), the caregiver must be a New Jersey resident, 18 years of age or older, and may not serve as a caregiver for another patient."
Patient identification cards are obtained by including a patient photograph, proof of residency, a government-issued ID, and applicable documentation of receipt of certain state and federal assistance programs.
The registration fee for patients and caregivers is $200, valid for two years. Patients and caregivers who qualify for certain state and federal assistance programs can pay a reduced registration fee of $20. Payment can be made online.
Zampella, of the Atlantic NeuroSurgical Specialists in Morris Township, compared the usage of medical marijuana to that of prescription pain medication, where decisions are not made lightly as to who is and isn't a candidate. He even said, in some cases, medical marijuana could carry lower risks than certain prescription pain medicines.
"When I heard about the medical marijuana application, it was a no-brainer," . "It's to help patients with symptoms and appropriate patients in pain management."
Medical marijuana has been said to ease symptoms associated with debilitating medical conditions including cancer, multiple sclerosis, AIDS and muscular dystrophy.
Of potentially legalizing the drug sometime in the future, , "If there's an opportunity to provide some relief, there's no reason it shouldn't be legalized for medical use."