MONTCLAIR, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- The first medical marijuana dispensary in New Jersey has finally opened its doors.
1010 WINS' Steve Sandberg reports
Owners of the facility had been waiting nearly three years for legal loopholes to unravel, but with the support of Gov. Chris Christie, it has become the first of its kind to provide medicinal cannabis in the state to the most critically ill patients.
"We want to prove and show everyone that this is a program that can and will work, not only in the State of New Jersey, but moving forward into every state in the U.S.," said Greenleaf's COO, Julio Valentin, Jr.
Statewide, officials have registered 338 patients who can receive medical marijuana, with another 61 applications under review. All must meet a list of requirements, including having one of 12 specific debilitating illnesses.
Multiple sclerosis, terminal cancer, glaucoma and HIV are among the approved conditions.
WCBS 880's Levon Putney reports
Montclair resident Pete Gonzalez does not have a prescription for medical marijuana, but stopped by the center shortly after it opened Thursday morning to find out how to apply for an ID card.
"Dislocated disc, herniated disc. I've been in like two accidents," Gonzalez told CBS 2's Kathryn Brown.
Greenleaf CEO Joseph Stevens said Greenleaf is ready to meet the demand, but vows to keep his shop secure and his supply strictly regulated.
"We're going to be growing patient medication in a separate facility in the northern region, but keeping that confidential because of security reasons," he said. "We want to base it on a number of patients, so we don't have an endless supply."
Stevens said smoking is not permitted inside the facility and the front windows are tinted to prevent outsiders from peering in.
"Consider us a pharmacy," he said.
Residents said they worry the center will bring unwanted attention to the town.
"I can understand the people that are really sick and need it," lifelong Montclair resident Juanita Morgan told CBS 2's Brown. "But at the same time I want to protect our youth."
Then-governor Jon Corzine signed the bill legalizing medical marijuana on his last day in office in 2010.
Christie has spent the last two years refining it. He wants the drug to be made available to those who have no other alternative, but said New Jersey will not be like Colorado or California, where medical marijuana is also legal.
"Because every quack doctor on every corner is writing prescriptions for every person who says they're sick and they have a headache and then they're going into a medical marijuana shop to buy an illegal drug for recreational purposes," Christie said. "I'm not going to permit that in this state."
Once approved, patients are limited to buying no more than two ounces per month. For now, Greenleaf plans to sell no more than a half-ounce at a time.
Medical marijuana is not covered by insurance, so the facility is cash-only. Operators of Greenleaf wouldn't say how much the marijuana costs, only that it varies by strain and is "affordable."
Greenleaf is the only licensed medical marijuana dispensary in the Garden State. For complete information on the requirements, click here.
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