The Classes Are Strictly For Medical-marijuana Patients — Definitely Not For People Who Might Want To Walk In, Said Amador, During An Interview Last Week At The New Jersey Alternative Medicine Clinic In Turnersville, Where She Is An Office Manager.

Jan Hefler Staff Writer Jan Hefler has been a writer with the Inquirer since 1985, covering South Jersey news. Among her topics are politics, environmental issues, crime, and profiles of interesting souls. She also chronicles the effort to legalize pot and the evolving medical marijuana industry. More by Jan Hefler Arrow icon Vanessa Amador has created a niche business in New Jersey thats designed to woo an exclusive and often-misunderstood clientele. Though others may want to attend the unique cooking classes offered by Cannabi Kitchen in Turnersville, Gloucester County, only those who flash a photo ID issued by the states tightly regulated medical-marijuana program will be allowed in. The curriculum: how to make cannabis-infused sweets, including banana walnut muffins, creamy chocolate candies shaped like marijuana leaves, and even green gummy bears and worms. More items — such as smoothies — could be added. The students are required to bring one ingredient — one-eighth of an ounce of cannabis from one of New Jerseys five licensed dispensaries, and it must be inside a container with an unbroken seal. Whether the strain is Blueberry Kush, AC-DC, or something else is up to the student. The classes are strictly for medical-marijuana patients — definitely not for people who might want to walk in, said Amador, during an interview last week at the New Jersey Alternative Medicine clinic in Turnersville, where she is an office manager. The clinic, which will host some of the classes starting in May, is run by Andrew Medvedovsky, a neurologist who specializes in pain management. Medvedovsky writes recommendations for patients who suffer from one of the dozen or so medical ailments that qualify them to use marijuana in New Jersey and who meet the program criteria. Many suffer from severe muscle spasms and neurological disorders. He said numerous patients have told him marijuana has greatly helped alleviate pain but they are embarrassed by the smell of marijuana and the stigma attached to it. Consuming edibles helps these patients get the medicine they need without worrying about the taboos, he said. Medvedovsky serves on the board of New Jersey Cannabusiness Association and said he is not aware of any similar classes in New Jersey for patients who want edibles. Payton Curry, an Arizona-based chef and entrepreneur, tours the country and teaches medical-marijuana patients about the health benefits of cannabis cuisine. Trained at New Yorks Culinary Institute of America, Curry applauds the concept of the New Jersey classes because they will introduce more people to edibles and help them overcome their fears of trying out these products. But Curry said he has some concerns because the New Jersey patients wont Green Rush know the potency of the products, which wont be tested before they are consumed. Without knowing the potency, theres zero reliability, he said. The New Jersey Department of Health, which regulates medical marijuana, has long taken a hands-off approach, telling patients they are free to create edibles with the raw cannabis that is sold. Patients have requested lab testing for the edibles they make in their homes, but the DOH has not made this available to them and no labs are available to do this. Amador said the patients at her classes can start out by consuming a small amount of the cannabis products to see the effects. She founded Cannabi Kitchen in January and held the first class in February at the In the Kitchen Cooking School in Haddonfield after patients at the clinic kept asking about making their own edibles. There were 28 students. In Colorado, patients can buy edibles if they want, but patients here cant do that. There was a need for these classes, Amador said, adding that the cost of the Turnersville class is $50 for three hours of instruction. She expects about 20 students per class and hopes to hold the sessions monthly. Unlike many states with medical-marijuana programs, New Jersey has not approved edibles for sale at the dispensaries. In 2013, Gov. Christie signed a bill to lift the ban, but he has been reluctant to expand the medical-marijuana program and his administration has rejected the applications submitted by dispensaries that wanted to manufacture edible products.

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