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PalliaTech hires former New Jersey pot czar as compliance chief

John O'Brien, former executive director of New Jersey's

John O'Brien, former executive director of New Jersey's medical marijuana program, has been named chief compliance officer at PalliaTech Inc. The company is applying for a license to dispense medical marijuana, and says it has acquired a 65,000-square-foot facility, at right, near New York's border with Canada that will be used to grow and refine cannabis plants into medicinal form. Photo Credit: PalliaTech

A Sea Cliff company that is applying for a license to dispense medical marijuana in New York State said Tuesday that it has hired the former executive director of New Jersey's medical marijuana program as chief compliance officer.

PalliaTech Inc. president and chief executive Richard Taney said in a news release that New York State has "the nation's most demanding" pharmaceutical grade medical marijuana program and that John O'Brien, the former New Jersey official, would help the company meet "aggressive standards and timelines" for production.

"John's experience leading New Jersey's program gives him firsthand knowledge of how to be up and running quickly in compliance with a strict regulatory framework," Taney said.

O'Brien served as the first executive director of New Jersey's medical marijuana program from December 2011 through April. Before taking that job, O'Brien worked with the New Jersey State Police for 26 years, retiring as a lieutenant.

Last week PalliaTech announced that it had agreed to lease a 65,000-square-foot facility in upstate Clinton County to grow and refine cannabis plants into medical marijuana.

The lease is contingent on PalliaTech winning one of the five licenses to produce and dispense medical marijuana expected to be awarded by the state Health Department this summer. Each licensee would be allowed to open as many as four dispensaries around the state.

Contenders for the marijuana licenses have used high-profile hires to buttress their positions.

Last week Carle Place-based Compassionate Care Center of New York, another hopeful in the medical marijuana competition, said it had enlisted Philip Banks III, former New York City Police Department chief of department, as its chief security officer. The company also employed Joseph Dunne, former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's chief security officer, as senior security adviser.

Compassionate Care's chief executive is Dr. Larry I. Good, former chief of the division of gastroenterology at South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside.

Also last week, a third company, Empire State Compassionate Care, whose principals, David and Michael Weisser, operate medical marijuana dispensaries in New Jersey and Colorado, said it had hired Michael Balboni, a former state senator from Nassau County and Homeland Security adviser, to help direct the company's safety, security and compliance operations.

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