State issues permit to grow medicinal marijuana

TRENTON – The state has issued a permit to grow medicinal marijuana to a Montclair-area center.

The permit, the first of its kind, was issued to Greenleaf Compassion Center by the Department of Health and Senior Services.

The approval is solely for growing, because its dispensary is not ready yet, according to HSS.  Once it is ready, a permit to operate as an alternative treatment center will be issued, HSS said in a release.

Greenleaf officials could not be reached immediately for reaction.

The state’s medical marijuana program has had trouble getting off the ground. Although Gov. Chris Christie gave the program his OK last year, some proposed centers have had trouble getting off the ground as local zoning and planning boards have opposed them.

But in this case, Greenleaf already has received approval in Montclair, according to HSS.

Backers of medical marijuana have criticized the state over the sluggish pace of getting the program under way, as well as how strict they say New Jersey’s program is, but the state used the occasion of Greenleaf’s approval to restate its commitment.

“The Department is committed to ensuring that medicinal marijuana is safely and securely available to patients as quickly as possible,” HSS Commissioner Mary E. O’Dowd said in a release.

“Today’s action authorizes Greenleaf to grow medicinal marijuana — which generally takes three-four months — so that once a permit for its dispensary is issued, medicinal marijuana will be available without delay.”

In addition, the state posted on the HSS web site the names of 100 physicians who are going to participate in the program.

A patient registry is in the final stages of development, according to HSS. Once it is open, in several weeks, physicians will be able to go online and enter the name, address, date of birth and qualifying condition of a patient, ideally creating a secure patient identification number that the patient can then use to register electronically.

Patients will be required to submit a photo by mail to the Department in order to obtain an identification card from the Medicinal Marijuana Program.

State issues permit to grow medicinal marijuana