WOODBRIDGE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — You have probably never seen the giant store in Woodbridge, New Jersey that is churning out legalized medical marijuana.
CBS2’s Dick Brennan got an exclusive look inside the facility, which is generating plenty of controversy.
Jacquie Carrafiello argues she’s not getting high. She’s getting relief.
She suffers from Crohn’s disease, but says medical marijuana has been a savior from constant pain, CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported.
“It’s completely changed my life,” said Carrafiello. “I’m more vibrant. I’m happier. I have more energy.”
And the secret to her success comes inside a nondescript building in Woodbridge, New Jersey.
CBS2’s cameras got the first look inside the Garden State medical marijuana dispensary, and the tour guide was the man who runs it: David Weisser.
“It’s definitely warm in here,” warned Weisser.
The dispensary is the largest of three opened in the state since medical marijuana was legalized in 2010, Brennan reported.
So how difficult is it to grow marijuana?
“We actually start from a clone, in a sense, and the way we make our clones is really just a leaf that we take from a mother plant, and we put that into a pot, and then we grow what you’re looking at right here,” Weisser said.
But they grow big and can be costly.
“It’s one of the most expensive plants to grow actually,” Weisser said, adding that it costs “over a thousand a pound to produce it.”
As a finished product, a pound of cannabis is worth about $8,000 in retail. But the patient gets about 7 grams — a quarter of an ounce, Brennan reported.
New Jersey is said to have the strictest medical marijuana laws in the United States. And Weisser said medical marijuana has nothing to do with getting high.
“Absolutely not. It’s not about getting high. If you talk to any of your patients here, they are very sick individuals,” Weisser said.
The law limits who can get medical marijuana. They include people with cancer, HIV-AIDS, ALS, epilepsy and other illnesses.
But critics say proponents will only try to add to the list.
“The doctor is in. They wave you in off the street: ‘You have a hangnail? You have a sleep disorder? Are you anxious?’ I mean, they can expand this,” said Steve Chassman, director of Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency.
And that expansion worries Chassman.
“It’s a very potent form of marijuana that quickly leads to the misuse and abuse of other drugs,” Chassman said.
The dispensary only services a few thousand people in a state of 9 million, but Carrafiello hopes the program grows, Brennan reported.
“If every doctor’s office or pharmacy was like this, everyone who is sick would be happier,” she said.
The Weisser family, which runs the New Jersey dispensary, said it will apply to open one in New York too.
Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana.