The Department of Health and Senior Services awarded a permit to the Greenleaf Compassion Center on Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair to grow medicinal marijuana, according to a press release from the health department issued Monday.
The move makes Greenleaf the first facility in New Jersey to be allowed to grow cannibis.
But, according to The Montclair Times, the dispensary cannot open for business yet. The state said that it will issue Greenleaf Compassion a permit to operate as an Alternative Treatment Center (ATC), including the additional authority to dispense medicinal marijuana, "once its Montclair dispensary is operational and has been inspected by the state," according to the press release.
Greenleaf will have to satisfy the health department "that it is in compliance with all of the regulations of the Medicinal Marijuana Program," according to the press release.
Even so, health officials say that the drug could be legally available to Greenleaf patients in as soon as three to four months.
Late last year, the Montclair Zoning Board approved an application from Greenleaf to open a storefront at 395 Bloomfield Avenue. All that Greenleaf had been waiting for was final approval from the state health department.
In addition to awarding a permit to Greenleaf, state officials on Monday also released a list of more than 100 physicians authorized to recommend medical marijuana to patients.
“The Department is committed to ensuring that medicinal marijuana is safely and securely available to patients as quickly as possible,” Health and Senior Services Commissioner Mary E. O’Dowd said in a statement.
In the registration process, physicians with verified credentials submit the name, address and condition of the patient they are treating, which generates a secure identification number for the patient, said Department spokeswoman Donna Leusner. Patients have to get an identification card from the state and select a treatment center before a recommendation will be generated by the state for a patient to purchase the marijuana.
“New Jersey’s Medicinal Marijuana Program is based on a medical-model which requires physicians and qualified patients to have an ongoing relationship,” Dr. Arturo Brito, deputy commissioner for public health services, said in a statement. “Physicians will have to monitor patients on medicinal marijuana as part of managing their medical condition.”
The Health Department is developing its patient registry, which will open in the next several months.
First opened in October 2010, the physician registry will continue to accept new enrollment online at https://njmmp.nj.gov/njmmp. Doctors were informed their names would be made public so patients can contact them.
“Physicians must have a bona fide and ongoing relationship with qualified patients they are recommending for the program,” said a Health Department news release.
In March 2011, the state announced six treatment centers had been licensed, but later said they were not actually approved, according to NJ.com. The Star-Ledger also published a series exposing apparent mismanagement in the medical marijuana program.
Medical marijuana has been said to ease symptoms associated with debilitating medical conditions including cancer, multiple sclerosis, AIDS and muscular dystrophy.