Two Years After Medical Marijuana Law, New Jersey Finally Grants Its First Growing Permit
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On Monday, New Jersey granted its first medical marijuana permit to the Greenleaf Compassion Center in Montclair, allowing the facility to begin growing the plant immediately. The state passed a law permitting medical marijuana for patients with chronic illnesses more than two years ago, but red tape has delayed progress ever since. A second permit is still needed for the facility to operate as an alternative treatment center. So first it must pass a state inspection—after that, marijuana could finally be available to New Jersey residents with chronic diseases by midsummer. "The Department is committed to ensuring that medicinal marijuana is safely and securely available to patients as quickly as possible," department Commissioner Mary O'Dowd said in a statement. While this is a significant milestone for medical marijuana, those involved are still keeping their fingers crossed.
Greenleaf’s CEO Joe Stevens is concerned about the delays and said planting won't begin until Governor Chris Christie guarantees the program’s future, as he doesn't want to start growing only to find that the health department still isn't ready to issue the final permit to dispense. Back in November, New Jersey Department of Health spokeswoman Donna Leusner explained the delays and red tape to The Fix by saying “The timetable for when each Alternative Treatment Center will meet all of the state requirements and obtain permits has many variables.” Ken Wolski, director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana in New Jersey, described local resistance in the Garden State as "townsfolk with torches and pitchforks chasing them out of town."