TRENTON – The state has issued its third permit for a medical marijuana facility in New Jersey.
Compassionate Care Centers of America Foundation Inc. of Woodbridge received a permit from the Department of Health to begin growing medicinal marijuana, the department announced Wednesday.
Compassionate Care Centers of America is the first medical marijuana center in the central region of the state.
In the southern portion of the state, Compassionate Care Foundation in Egg Harbor Township is on schedule to begin dispensing in mid-September, the Health Department said. Patients have been able to register with that center since Aug. 5.
The first such treatment facility, in the northern end of the state, is Greenleaf Compassion Center in Montclair.
The legislation that OK’d medical marijuana allows for six treatment centers altogether. Critics have complained of the slow pace of getting the centers up and running; they blame local zoning opposition and overly strict regulations.
But Gov. Chris Christie has made it clear from the start that he wants to prevent some of the controversies that have plagued centers out West from occurring in New Jersey, such as people improperly obtaining marijuana who don’t medically need it.
Another issue lately is pending approval of a bill that would make it easier for minors to have access to medical marijuana to help them cope with severe seizures and other conditions that are not easily treatable by other means. The governor has indicated in the past he is reluctant to sign the bill, but he did not commit himself either way.
Regarding the latest permit, the Health Department called it a meaningful step.
“It will give patients more options to choose from in terms of geographic locations and the number of available strains,” Health Commissioner Mary O’Dowd said in a release.
Once Compassionate Care Centers of America Foundation is permitted to operate, patients will be notified by email of the opening date and the procedure for registering. Compassionate Care Centers of America Foundation has indicated it expects to open later this year, the Health Department said.
Approximately 1,200 patients are registered with the Medicinal Marijuana Program. The 234 physicians enrolled in the program are listed by county and medical specialty. A complete list of physicians participating in the program can be found at: http://www.state.nj.us/health/medicalmarijuana/find_phy_pat.shtml.