New Jersey Marijuana Proponents Hold Their Breath on Medical Pot and Legalization

As New Jerseyans wait to learn whether the state Senate will follow its peers in the Assembly to pass a bill to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, the first medical marijuana dispensary within New Jersey’s borders may be little more than a month away from opening.

More than two years after former Gov. Jon Corzine signed the bill legalizing medical pot, the Greenleaf Compassion Center is preparing to open in Montclair in early September and is already growing the maximum three strains of grass in preparation for opening day.

“Being a funeral director for 15 years, I would hear from families whose loved one had been dying over time and used marijuana for relief. But they all felt like criminals,” said Joe Stevens, Greenleaf’s president and CEO. “It gave their loved one quality of life at the end rather than being on morphine, which would put them in a drug-induced coma, unable to have dinner with the family or talk with their loved ones.”

After years of bureaucratic delays that compelled pro-pot Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Trenton) to call for legislative hearings with Gov. Chris Christie’s administration, Greenleaf is the first of six non-profit organizations to receive permission from the Department of Health to begin growing marijuana to sell at its dispensary. Once Stevens finalizes his security systems, ensures his employees pass mandatory drug tests and background checks, and completes construction on his retail facility, which will have an atmosphere he likens to a comfortable medical clinic, he’ll be ready to invite in the state for final licensing.

Despite this, Stevens fears he’ll be missing one critical component when he opens his doors: customers.

– Read the entire article at New Jersey Spotlight.