Medical marijuana facility dedicated to local woman, prepares to -

Medical marijuana facility dedicated to local woman, prepares to dispense

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What will be the second medical marijuana facility in the state to distribute to patients is getting ready to open its doors. But before the prescribed pot is dispensed, the building was dedicated to a local woman who helped pave the way.

It's constant work as the Compassionate Care Foundation prepares for patients to finally pick up medical marijuana from the Egg Harbor Township facility. “We're in the middle of harvesting our first crop and replacing that crop with the next 500 plants,” explained Bill Thomas, President and CEO of the Compassionate Care Foundation.

This will be the second place in the state to dispense pot to patients who've been waiting for the drug- 650 have registered to use the facility. “We have 150 appointments already booked, starting on the 28th of this month,” said Thomas.

“Of course, it would've been nice for my wife to see it, but actually her main intent was to help everybody else.” And while Diane Riportella lost her battle to ALS last year, her fight to legalize medical marijuana will be remembered, along with her spirit, forever. On Friday, her family, along with local and state officials dedicated the building in her honor. “I can't put it into words, it's fantastic,” said her husband, Paul Riportella, “I know she's looking down on it.”

“We owe it all to her that we're even here having this opportunity to help people,” said Thomas.

It's the kind of help Riportella said allowed his wife to get the right kind of relief. “With all the other meds we did have available to us, it was one of the only ones that could actually bring a smile back to her face,” he said, “and kind of let her be what she used to be, or the way she used to be.”

“It's undeniable that this has medical value,” said Thomas. An eighth to two ounces will be available for patients per visit, which is by appointment only. While officials say they're not rationing the supply, they do want to make sure there's enough to everyone.

“It can help so, so many people,” said Riportella.

While many see the opening of this facility as a big victory for medical marijuana advocates,

those running the show say they haven't reached the finish line yet. “The real win for us is when we have hundreds of people come back to us and say you helped us,” said Thomas, “you helped me, thank you.”

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