Marijuana has arrived in Montclair.
Greenleaf Compassion Center, located at 395 Bloomfield Ave., opened on Dec. 6 and became the first medical marijuana dispensary in New Jersey.
“We are excited,” said Joseph Stevens, board member and one of the chief financial officers, about finally opening up the dispensary. “For the patients of New Jersey, they finally are able to procure their medication in a safe environment.”
The dispensary had scheduled about 20 patient appointments this morning who came from throughout the state, said Stevens. There are more than 370 patients eligible to participate in the medical marijuana program in New Jersey, with many more in the application process.
The nondescript dispensary is located in the heart of Montclair’s bustling business district, next to restaurants and across from the Wellmont Theatre. The storefront windows are tinted black, and a security guard was stationed under the dispensary’s awning.
Julio Valentin Jr., another board member and one of the chief financial officers, said he is a longtime business owner in Montclair and was proud to open the first medical marijuana dispensary in town.
“Montclair has been great with us — the community, the town council, the mayor,” said Valentin. “I have been in this town 15 years and I couldn’t think of a better place for us to open up where it would be so accepting.”
The community, added Stevens, “are very welcoming to us — from the beginning.”
Since former Governor Jon Corzine legalized medical marijuana at the start of 2010, the process to open the Greenleaf has been a long one.
While the Montclair dispensary was issued a permit to sell medical marijuana in October, Stevens said the board delayed the opening until the state decided whether to charge the state’s 7-percent sales tax on the purchase of the drug.
The state determined at the end of November that marijuana would be a cash crop, and the sales tax would apply to all sales of the drug, according to NJ.com.
“There were a lot of hurdles to get through, that’s for sure,” said Stevens. “But that’s the nature of a new industry. The last issue was the tax issue.”
“We were kind of expecting” that the state would decide to charge sales tax, added Stevens. “Some of the sponsors of the bill had mixed feelings whether it should be taxed or not, so I think they’re going to explore it.”
The state does not charge sales tax for any other doctor prescribed medicine.
There are five other treatment centers which are currently seeking a permit from the state, according to the Department of Health.
Here is what your local businesses and residents are saying about the opening of Greenleaf on the Montclair Patch Facebook page.
- Carrie Babcock personally, i have a friend with cancer who can barely walk and eat the weeks on the chemo pill. this would be very helpful......
- Nancy Cookie Glover I believe the less attention brought to this senseless arrival to our community the better...I woukd have preferred that its location have not been on Bloomfield Avenue where its location will be a constant reminder to those who live here but also to those who visit this wonderful town, but I also do feel that as time goes on, and more states legalize it, it will become the norm...I think that what is of most concern to the residents of Montclair is that the drug not enter the hands of minors.
- Nancy Cookie Glover And yes I do realize that it is solely here for medicinal purposes, you need to prove you have a prescription and proper ID...I am fully aware of that..but along with known sexual offenders that doesnt mean you want it in your town
- SwapXXchange - The Coolest Thrift Store on the Planet We are proud to be amid such a wonderful diversity of businesses on Bloomfield Avenue in downtown Montclair. We wish Greenleaf much success and will continue to support any business that brings new shoppers to our neighborhood.
- Monique Balsamo Of course we're on board! Anyone who's experienced what cancer (and other illnesses medicinal marijuana alleviates) does to loved ones, friends & neighbors would agree that a legal, proper dispensary would be welcome in a forward thinking town such as ours. It is not meant to be a stop on the MTC town tour, or to make marijuana available to anyone but patients in need. Don't be ignorant about its purpose or intent.
- Risa Pappas Why are we even asking ourselves this question? I wouldn't stop and consider if I'd want another doctor's office on the main drag. How is this any different? Aren't the citizens of Montclair supposed to be above close-minded, stigma-filled thinking?
- Lauren Michelle Nancy, if you are really concerned about minors abusing drugs, I'd direct your attention to prescription pills, which teens are abusing at alarmingly increasing rates. More than that, prescription pills are responsible for the largest percentage of deaths related to overdose. Marijuana? 0. And as others have said, this is not a recreational marijuana dispensary. It is medical. So just like the CVS down the road on Bloomfield Ave (which I assume you do not object to), you aren't getting anything without a prescription.
- Gabrielle Howard Let's hope that it brings relief to those who truly need it. Go Greenleaf!
- Nick Baldwin "Compassion" center? I'm sorry, but that is funny.
- Susan Loomis Wyatt I was wondering why the Eyewitness news truck was parked across from my office.
- Susan Loomis Wyatt And News 4 NY truck
- Monique Balsamo Why is "Compassion" center funny? I'm betting it's not funny to a terminally ill patient. good luck, Greenleaf, with a bunch of goons out there who don't get it, you'll need it.
- Bru Rossman I hope all you stoners out there respect the medical properties of cannabis and the real need of the recipients.
- Mikelle Lipsius Komor It's about time.