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New Jersey's Only Medical Marijuana Dispensary Temporarily Closed

By Thomas H. Clarke June 29, 2013 New Jersey's Only Medical Marijuana Dispensary Temporarily Closed
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MONTCLAIR, NJ — The only operating medical marijuana dispensary in New Jersey, Montclair’s Green Leaf Compassion Center, announced Friday that they are closing for about two weeks due to a shortage of medical quality marijuana.

New Jersey’s medical marijuana program has been heavily criticized for being overly restrictive, and has gotten off to a painfully slow start.  Three years after approving dispensaries in the state, Greenleaf Compassion Center remains the only open dispensary, and is only serving limited patients in the northern part of the state.

Now, because of New Jersey’s restrictive medical marijuana regulations, among which require dispensaries to grown their own cannabis and can carry only three strains at a time, the state’s only open dispensary must close for about two weeks to replenish their supply.

The closure comes as a result of a recent crop being deemed “inferior” by dispensary operators, who say they lost about ten percent of their limited supply of marijuana this month.

“We need another two weeks, perhaps,” says Greenleaf Chief Operating Officer Julio Valentin. “We are trying to build our supply up so we never have to close again. We are living harvest to harvest.”

“We continue to be focused on doing everything we can to service as many patients as possible while working in a highly regulated industry,” added Joe Stevens, Valentin’s partner. “Patients remain Greenleaf’s number one priority.”

Roseanne Scotti, director of the Drug Policy Alliance of New Jersey, says that while the closure is unfortunate, it is not the dispensary’s fault, placing the blame on the program itself for being too restrictive.

“Two weeks might literally be a lifetime for some of the seriously ill patients and it will feel like a life time for many others who are suffering,” Scotti said. “New Jersey needs more Alternative Treatment Centers and if the ones that have been given licenses can’t get up and running the state should give the licenses to someone else or reopen the application process and let other groups open centers.”

The law authorizing six medical marijuana dispensaries to open in the state took effect in January 2010, with the state health department selecting the six dispensaries over two years ago.  Since then, only Greenleaf has opened its doors, finally being able to do so in December 2012 after clearing all the hurdles of the application process, including finding a township that would allow them to open.

Eventually six dispensaries, or “alternative treatment centers” as they are called in the New Jersey medical marijuana law, will serve registered patients, but Greenleaf is the first to complete the application and permitting process and secure approvals from local officials.

New Jersey’s second dispensary, Compassionate Care Foundation, is expected to begin serving patients in the fall in Egg Harbor, having finally received authorization from the state to begin growing marijuana.

Four other dispensaries have yet to find suitable locations for growing and distributing medical marijuana, as many New Jersey towns have banned dispensaries from opening within their communities.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie defended the medical marijuana program, saying the demand for medical marijuana is not significant.

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  • MC

    I don’t know what is more absurd, the fact that there is any sort of a “shortage” of MJ in NJ or Christie’s claim that there isn’t significant demand. BS on both counts.

    • Ellis D. Tripp

      The shortage part seems completely believable when you consider how NJ’s MMJ program was set up. The dispensaries need to grow their own supply. They can’t buy it in from outside growers like they do in CA and other states. Apparently, they are having “teething issues” getting their grow operation up to speed, and the yield/quality aren’t sufficient to meet patient demand.

      If the Christie administration hadn’t deliberately stacked the deck against the dispensaries and their patients, there wouldn’t be a problem. I know a bunch of folks in NJ, and there isn’t any shortage of good smoke available, it’s just that the law prevents the dispensaries from having access to it.

  • Mike

    One more indication of the foolishness involved in MMJ programs that brag on how restrictive they are. This is all about compromising to get the doors open for patients and — as a patient myself — the need is there.

    That said, this sort of BS is mostly caused by politicians that don’t ever want to be accused of helping facilitate an illegal drug transaction — given no one in their right mind would bother jumping through all the hoops to buy what would be a limited supply of otherwise too expensive marijuana unless one was sick and needed it — and then try to resell it, while at the same time pretending the current laws actually restrict availability to anyone on the street. One has to ask, “What were they smoking?” because that’s a fantasyland that only prohibitionist politicians live in.

    Growing good, clean dope ain’t rocket science — unless you’re the government.

    The three strain limit is particularly dumb. I guess that just leaves out all those who would be helped better by some other strain? There are hundreds. Wouldn’t Gov. Christie want all the drugs he needs going through his medical issues, not just a best 3 out of 10 or something? Yeah, I think so.

  • greenisgoodpurpleisbetter

    People will be dead in two weeks. They’ve cancelled appts for 2 weeks leading up to this week so it’s 4 weeks closed. They are only open every 2-3 weeks for 4 hours in the middle of a weekday and have been blaming inferior crop for over 3 months on why they’ve only had their Sativa variety available. People cannot go that long without transplant meds, nor blood pressure meds, nor opiates, insulin…..why do we have to go without our medicinal cannabis?

    Home cultivation and collectives need to be implemented immediately so Patients have safe, legal and affordable access. $560 an ounce plus tax is not affordable for people too sick to work.

    Glaucoma patients can’t just stop medicating because of a bad crop. When patients asked to come even for 1/4 oz they were told NO. No you can’t have your medicine because it doesn’t make good business sense for us to open.

    I thought they were non profit? Put the Patients first.

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  • Jeryzkyd

    During that two week period, patients will have to turn to the streets to Get! Just like the way it was before dispensaries were in the works..someone needs to create a distribution program between growers in other Med. Marijuana States. When the government talks regulation they are only thinking taxation!

  • Ken

    Join us to stop the infringement of our bill of rights prosecute these traitor elected officials and kick out all these illegal immigrants. This U.S government is illegitimate and now the power has moved back to the people again. Help us organize to abolish all illegal laws passed by lawmakers. Follow us @

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/400296320037333/

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  • RockyMissouri

    A terrible shame….!! The people deserve better…

  • potential patient

    The demand only seems small because lots of potential patients have no confidence in the current program and don’t want to step up and register for a program that has serious problems. NJ, like other programs, needs to allow patients/caregivers to grow their own (Garden State — hello!) and also they need to allow/find multiple sources for medicine at the designated dispensaries. There are ways to do it where the people who need help get it, without it becoming as freely available to illegitimate fakers as maybe it is in California or Colorado.

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  • jared

    it will take about decade just to get just a handful of dispensaries to open….
    the truth is the medical cannabis system in NJ is basically a joke….complete failure…non existing…Christie said” there is not enough of a demand to take the program seriously”…..
    .every single aspect of the entire process is completely manipulated by the state government. there is 1 grower/distributor(greenleaf compassion) and lets face it….they are located at the old inner eye head shop space.so if it wasn’t Montclair, a town know for counter culture. they probably would not have been open so quickly. they have a very limited supply of 2 or 3 strains and limited quantity. by now there is over 1000 patients enrolled with the state, so there no way they can support the demand. that’s why Greenleaf is seeking to expand their space and harvest.
    now a second dispensary in egg harbor nj opening in October. as this wasn’t difficult enough, there are probably 3 or 4 more compassion center/dispensaries/grow operations that have been approved by state government but cant seem to find a municipality or township to issue permit for business opening distribution, or a place to legally grow it. even on a municipal level they don’t take the medical cannabis system seriously…townships don’t want to issue permit for pot stores… there is much unwanted attention and or all conflicts of interest that come into being after opening a cannabis dispensary. the federal government is certainly involved because they don’t want another oaksterdam…. they are not on board ….the state will not be on board until hundreds die and 10′s of thousands of people register and pour out into the streets demanding their medicine.

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