EGG HARBOR—This Friday, October 18th, Compassionate Care Foundation will hold a ceremony to dedicate its soon-to-open medical marijuana dispensary to Diane Riportella, a medical marijuana advocate who lost her battle with ALS last year. Officiating the ceremony will be William Thomas, CEO of Compassionate Care, and Paul Riportella, Diane’s husband. The dispensary is located at 100 Century Drive in Egg Harbor Township.
Diane was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) in September of 2007 and tirelessly promoted the use of medical marijuana in New Jersey, even as she fought her own battle with ALS. In 2010, she testified before two state Senate committees about her personal experience with medical marijuana and the benefits the medicine could offer someone with her condition. She died at home in September 2012 at the age of 56.
Her husband Paul Riportella says, “Diane fought long and hard to have this law passed in the state of New Jersey. Compassionate Care will help so many people that are suffering in the South Jersey area, and beyond, and it will stand in tribute to her efforts. I hope that people recognize what a triumph the opening of this site will be and how much medical marijuana can improve the lives of people suffering from tragic illnesses. I hope that this facility will reach all the patients who are desperately in need of the service it provides.”
“Diane was an inspiration,” said Roseanne Scotti, New Jersey State Director for Drug Policy Alliance. “She fought for medical marijuana for years. As her disease progressed and she became more limited in her mobility, her husband Paul and her family helped her get to the State House in her wheelchair to advocate with legislators. And when she was finally bedridden, she did interviews with reporters from her bed. The opening of this Alternative Treatment Center is a testament to Diane’s passion and commitment to helping other patients.”
The Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act became law in January of 2010. The legislation allows patients suffering from certain debilitating and life-threatening illnesses such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma and multiple sclerosis to use and possess medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation. The bill also allows for the licensing of six Alternative Treatment Centers where qualifying patients can safely access medical marijuana.
Compassionate Care is expected to open later this month and will become New Jersey’s second operating Alternative Treatment Center. Greenleaf Compassion Center in Montclair was the first to open in December of 2012 and has served about 130 patients.