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Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
November 29, 2011

Mary E. O'Dowd, M.P.H.

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Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

DHSS Names New Director of Medicinal Marijuana Program


The Department of Health and Senior Services today announced the appointment of John H. O'Brien Jr., a 26-year veteran and retired lieutenant of the New Jersey State Police, as director of New Jersey’s Compassionate Use Medicinal Marijuana program, to bring the leadership, oversight and integrity necessary for the program’s continued implementation and security.

O'Brien, 51, of Manchester Township, most recently served as Assistant Bureau Chief for the State Bureau of Identification, where he managed a staff of 120 and nine units which conduct criminal background checks and licensing investigations. He is an expert in the use of FBI and New Jersey criminal history record systems.

Under his leadership, the State Police created and implemented a program that provided immediate federal and state criminal history record checks of firearms purchasers. O’Brien also created a secure and consumer-friendly program that allows a private vendor to provide fingerprint capture services for applicants for jobs as teachers, child care workers and nurses’ aides, eliminating the burden on municipal police departments.

He also served as a Field Representative in the Identification and Information Technology Section of the State Police; as a Trooper in Field Operations and was also assigned to the detective unit of the State Government Security Bureau.

Health and Senior Services Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd said O'Brien "has the expertise to get this program up and running with integrity. No Alternative Treatment Center will be issued a permit to grow or dispense medicinal marijuana until each applicant, its officers, board members and employees have been thoroughly vetted" and have met all regulatory requirements.

“I am appreciative of the confidence and support shown to me by Commissioner O’Dowd,” O’Brien said. “I believe the Administration and the Legislature have developed a firm foundation on which to build this program. I look forward to the opportunity to successfully bring the program to full implementation.”

O'Brien will join the Department on Monday, December 5, 2011 and will report to Deputy Commissioner Dr. Arturo Brito.

For more information about New Jersey’s Medicinal Marijuana program please visit:

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