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License of doctor who authorized medical marijuana for thousands temporarily suspended

Dr. Anthony Anzalone boasts a roster of 2,077 active patients, compared to the average 45 patients typical of most other MMP-registered physicians.

The license of a gynecologist who created a multimillion dollar enterprise by indiscriminately authorizing medical marijuana use for thousands of patients has been temporarily suspended by the State Board of Medical Examiners.

Dr. Anthony Anzalone, who was one of the first doctors to register for the New Jersey’s Medical Marijuana Program in 2012, has reportedly authorized nearly 3,250 patients for medicinal marijuana, many of whom he met in hotel conference centers across the state.

His roster of 2,077 active patients towers over the average roster of 45 patients that most physicians registered with the MMP have, according to the verified complaint.

“State legislatures may relax their laws against marijuana – and many already have – but there are limits to what state law allows, and the public should know that we vigorously enforced those limits to protect public safety and prevent unlawful distribution,” said Attorney General Grewal in a statement.

“We allege that Dr. Anzalone failed to adhere to even the most fundamental rules of New Jersey’s Medicinal Marijuana Program, a program carefully regulated to meet the public’s need for compassionate treatment alternatives while preventing unlawful marijuana distribution and use,” Grewal said. “We expect physicians to abide by the rules and regulations of their profession, no matter what kind of medicine they are practicing.”

In the verified complaint filed with the Board, the state alleges that Anzalone, who also goes by the moniker NJGreenMD, engaged in fraud, gross negligence, and professional misconduct by authorizing medicinal marijuana to large groups of people who attended conferences he held in hotels.

Anzalone charged each person an initial consultation fee of $350 and a quarterly fee of $100 for continued authorization thereafter. His medical marijuana practice was detached from any effort to individualize care, according to the state, which alleges he would meet with a group for a general discussion and then rely on his staff to register each individual in the MMP with a 90-day supply of marijuana.

His staff, who also provided instruction on marijuana use and storage, were not trained in the medical field.

Anzalone routinely registered patients that would not qualify for the MMP to increase his patient base and revenues, the state alleges.

“We allege that Dr. Anzalone exploited his patients and the MMP for his own gain, completely disregarding the regulations meant to protect patients and promote the efficacious use of medicinal marijuana,” said Paul Rodríguez, acting director of the Division of Consumer Affairs, in a statement. “By temporarily suspending Dr. Anzalone from practicing medicine, we are making it clear that we will not allow unscrupulous doctors to enrich themselves at the expense of the safety and welfare of their patients and the public.”

Anzalone must wind down his practice within the next 30 days and cease practicing medicine altogether on Feb. 8, under terms he entered with the Board Wednesday, His license will remain under temporary suspension until all allegations against him are resolved.

During his temporary suspension, the Department of Health will help his patients transition to one of the MMP’s 864 other physicians.

The Enforcement Bureau of the Division of Consumer Affairs opened its investigation into Anzalone based on a number of consumer complaints against him. The contents of those complaints were confirmed by undercover state investigators posing as patients who said that the doctor “practices with little regard for patient privacy, and in a manner inconsistent with the bona fide physician-patient relationship requirement.”

Anzalone could not be reached for comment by press time.Dr. Anthony Anzalone boasts a roster of 2,077 active patients, compared to the average 45 patients typical of most other MMP-registered physicians. – (DEPOSIT PHOTOS)

Gabrielle Saulsbery
Albany, N.Y. native Gabrielle Saulsbery is a staff writer for NJBIZ and the newest thing in New Jersey. You can contact her at gsaulsbery@njbiz.com.

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