TRENTON – A physician had his license temporarily suspended for allegedly indiscriminately prescribing medical marijuana to thousands of patients he met in hotel conference centers across New Jersey.
Anthony Anzalone, 66, an OBGYN with practices in North Jersey, must cease practicing medicine altogether be Feb. 8 and will not be able to resume practice until the allegations against him are resolved.
“He 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,” the doctor’s attorney, Jef Henninger, said in an email to Jersey Shore Online.
Anzalone has been part of the Medical Marijuana Program since 2012. He advertised under the name “NJGreenMD.”
The State filed a complaint with the State Board of Medical Examiners, alleging Anzalone “engaged in fraud, gross negligence, and professional misconduct by indiscriminately authorizing medicinal marijuana to large groups of people who attended conferences he held in hotels around the state, charging each an initial consultation fee of $350 and subsequently charging each quarterly fees of $100 for continued authorization of the drug,” a statement from New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal’s office said.
The State also alleges Anzalone prescribed medical marijuana to patients who didn’t qualify, or fabricated qualifications for them to receive the drug.
“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,” Paul R. Rodríguez, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs, said. “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.”
Since 2012, Anzalone has authorized almost 3,250 patients for medicinal marijuana. Grewal’s office said the doctor has about 2,077 active patients, while most of the physicians registered with the Medical Marijuana Program have an average of 45 patients.
“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. “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. We expect physicians to abide by the rules and regulations of their profession, no matter what kind of medicine they are practicing.”
Investigators with the Enforcement Bureau within the Division of Consumer Affairs conducted the investigation into this matter with assistance from the Department of Health.
Deputy Attorney General Michael Antenucci, of the Professional Boards Prosecution Section in the Division of Law, represented the State in this matter.
Patients can file complaints against physicians whom they believe have inappropriately treated them with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by calling 800-242-5846.