Greenleaf Compassion Center in Montclair has cleared all its regulations and was granted a license to become the state's first medical marijuana center, Health Commissioner Mary O'Dowd announced Monday.
It is great news for patients who have been battling years of political opposition and bureaucratic delays; legal pot is on the verge of becoming a reality in the Garden State.
Medical cannabis is still illegal under federal law, however, and out of the 17 states have approved it, New Jersey’s laws are the strictest and have taken the longest to pass.
The law was enacted in January 2010 but was delayed as the state set regulations for marijuana dispensaries. The centers faced even more delays as nonprofit operators struggled to find towns that would accept them.
But Greenleaf was the exception, Fox News reported. They’ve been allowed to open a storefront in downtown Montclair.
On Monday O'Dowd said she did not expect Greenleaf to open right away, but since the center has received its final approval it can begin to make appointments with patients.
O'Dowd said 320 patients have registered to use medical marijuana and 175 doctors have signed up to prescribe it.
Joseph Stevens, the president of Greenleaf, did not give an exact timeline for Greenleaf’s opening, Fox News reported.
Now that Greenleaf is licensed, patients who have registered there will start receiving their cards in the mail this week, according to O’Dowd.
Patients who have conditions that include multiple sclerosis, glaucoma and terminal cancer, are allowed to access the drug and the potency will be regulated by the state, under New Jersey’s law.
Those who advocate the drug say it helps relieve pain and help with nausea.