Setting a New Standard for Medical Marijuana in New Jersey

By Scott Gacek | The Daily Chronic | November 30, 2013

Marijuana Dispensary - NJWOODBRIDGE, NJ — New Jersey’s third medical marijuana dispensary, Garden State Dispensary in Woodbridge, quietly began serving patients Friday, bringing much-needed relief to the state’s strained medical marijuana program.

While not fully functional, with a grand opening scheduled for December 4, the Garden State Dispensary opened their doors to a small handful of medical marijuana patients.

Why? Because they had the permit to do so, and medicine ready for dispensing.  And, with 1,500 registered patients lacking access to medicine, dispensary operators are on a mission: To bring change to the states’s troubled medical marijuana program.

Maybe the waiting area still needs some final touches, such as furniture expected to arrive next week. Maybe only two of the soon to be ten dispensary kiosks are installed and operational.  But the medicine, that was ready, with three strains lab tested up to 29.2% THC.

Garden State Dispensary was issued their final permit to open on Wednesday, and announced plans to open on December 4th.  But unable to see patients continue to suffer from the state’s lack of medical marijuana access, they quietly began scheduling appointments beginning Friday afternoon.

Currently, the New Jersey medical marijuana program, which has been highly criticized for being overly restrictive and slow to implement, has two other open dispensaries, or alternative treatment centers (ATC) as they are referred to in the state.  The first dispensary to open, Montclair’s Greenleaf Compassion Center, has been plagued by supply issues, resulting in a temporary closure in August leading to part-time only hours, currently open one day per week.

The second dispensary, Egg Harbor’s Compassionate Care Foundation, opened too much fanfare last week but has since been criticized by patients who say their medicine is inferior to black market marijuana and much more expensive, with lab tests found less than 10% THC in their marijuana. Last week, the majority of CCF’s crop of marijuana was reportedly seized and destroyed by public health officials for containing mold.  The dispensary remains open for consultations, but has been unable to dispense any medical marijuana, according to patients.

Enter Garden State Dispensary, who’s operators have a background in running successful medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado.  Located in a former electronics store, Garden State Dispensary boasts an expansive 20,000 square foot facility and a plenty of parking, located near several major highways.  The dispensary was designed to initially accommodate potentially 1,000 patients per day.

Dispensary operators say they hope to be able to provide enough medical marijuana to supply all 1,500 patients currently registered in New Jersey, and the ability to expand to meet the needs of more.  With three strains lab tested, approved, and ready for sale, Garden State began servicing patients Friday afternoon. Initially, only a few appointments were scheduled, but as the day progressed operators squeezed in a few more. About a dozen more patients are scheduled for the weekend, and appointments available next week as they move closer to the December 4th grand opening.

A tour of their grow facilities revealed the importance of an experienced team of dispensary operators at the helm. With various strains in various stages, and room to significantly increase growing capacity to meet the needs of the state’s patients, Garden State Dispensary looks poised to be able to accommodate frustrated patients in New Jersey, who have been fighting for a consistent, reliable, safe, and quality supply of medical marijuana since 2010.

As impressive as their grow facilities are, the true professionalism of Garden State Dispensary is most evident in the patient areas. With four private consultation rooms, a large patient check in area, an even larger waiting room, and ten medication kiosks, the dispensary is poised to be able to accommodate large numbers of patients at any time.   Patient areas are bright and welcoming, and consultation areas are available to discuss the benefits of cannabis therapy and assist prospective patients with understanding the application process.

While current offerings are limited to three strains of marijuana, due to then-imposed restrictions set by the state at the time of planting, the dispensary is working to increase their menu now that SB 2842 has been implemented, removing the strain limits and allowing for some edible and concentrated forms of medical marijuana for minors.  A high-CBD strain is coming soon, as well.

Garden State Dispensary is certainly raising the bar and setting a new standard for alternative treatment centers in New Jersey, and possibly the country.  Once fully operational by their December 4th grand opening, they should be able to accommodate the state’s patients, allowing the state’s other two dispensaries a little relief, and a chance to rebuild.