A physician who had offices in East Rutherford and Clifton had his license in the state’s medical marijuana program temporarily suspended for “creating a multimillion-dollar enterprise by indiscriminately authorizing marijuana use for thousands of patients he met in hotel conference centers” across New Jersey, authorities said Thursday.
Dr. Anthony Anzalone, 66 -- who has been a registered participant in the MMP since 2012 – “must wind down his medical practice within the next 30 days and cease practicing medicine altogether on February 8, under the terms of an Interim Consent Order he entered with the Board,” Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said.
“His license will remain temporarily suspended until the allegations against him are resolved,” Grewal said.
“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 enforce those limits to protect public safety and prevent unlawful distribution,” Grewal said.
Attorney Jef Henniger emailed Daily Voice on Thursday: "Please be advised that this firm represents Dr. Anzalone. Please do not contact him. Instead, direct all questions to this office. Dr. Anzalone is a very popular doctor that takes great care of his patients. He is a trailblazer in this industry. Dr. Anzalone maintains his innocence and looks forward to having his license reinstated at the conclusion of this matter."
Anzalone, who was nicknamed “Dr. Marijuana,” originally specialized in obstetrics and gynecology, was among the first doctors to register for the MMP program before becoming the state’s busiest pot doc.
Anzalone eventually was evicted from several offices he'd opened statewide. So he began focusing on conferences that drew large crowds across the state.
Anzalone advertised large conferences as “NJGreenMD,” then indiscriminately prescribed pot to attendees, charging each an initial consultation fee of $350 and quarterly fees of $100 for continued authorizations, he said.
The practice was “inherently impersonal and detached from any effort to individualize care,” Grewal said.
In fact, the attorney general said, it was Anzalone’s staff – not trained in medicine – who instructed the patients on use and storage and collected the initial consultation fee, usually in cash.
In order to expand his patient base and make more money, authorities charged, Anzalone routinely registered patients who didn’t qualify for the program.
Since joining the program, Anzalone authorized nearly 3,250 patients for medicinal marijuana, a state complaint against him says.
He has about 2,077 active patients – compared to other MMP-registered physicians, who average 45 patients each.
ALSO SEE: An East Rutherford doctor who dispenses medical marijuana could be seeing several new female patients if a group of lawmakers in Trenton succeeds in adding menstrual cramps and uterine contractions to their list of qualifying conditions.
The New Jersey Department of Health, which administers the MMP, will provide assistance to patients affected by Anzalone’s temporary suspension, authorities said.
“Patients can search for a participating physician by county on our website or call our customer service unit at 609-292-0424 for assistance in finding physicians,” state Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal said.
Complaints from several patients convinced state authorities to send in undercover detectives as potential patients. They also interviewed actual patients who’d complained.
They found that Anzalone didn’t conduct a comprehensive medical history or physical examination to determine whether prospective patients suffered from a debilitating medical condition – the qualification to receive medicinal marijuana.
He also failed to follow up with the patients or keep complete and accurate records, Grewal said.
Investigators with the Enforcement Bureau within the Division of Consumer Affairs conducted the investigation, assisted by the Department of Health.
Deputy Attorney General Michael Antenucci, of the Professional Boards Prosecution Section in the Division of Law, is prosecuting the case.
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