New Jersey is not allowing registered patients to grow their own, and is limiting the potency, amount and variety of pot patients can buy. There's a relatively short list of conditions that qualify patients for the drug, and unlike some more lenient states, chronic pain and anxiety aren't on it.
Only New Jersey residents are eligible. New York, easily reachable by rail, does not allow medical marijuana, though lawmakers have proposed doing so.
Last year, the New Jersey Department of Health selected six nonprofit groups to pursue plans to grow and sell cannabis. The other five have struggled to find towns that will accept them, and none yet has permission to start growing marijuana, let alone sell it.
Groups are planning sites in Egg Harbor Township and Woodbridge. The other three groups have not announced their latest location plans.
Only Greenleaf has had a direct path. In its application, the group said it would meet patients in Montclair and grow its plants in another, undisclosed town. The group won't say where, citing security.
A year ago, Janice Talley, Montclair's director of planning and community development, found that the site on Bloomfield Avenue — next door to an abortion clinic and three buildings down from an adult video store that has pipes and vaporizers displayed for sale — would be a permissible for the new business under zoning laws.
Talley said she fielded complaints from some national anti-marijuana groups. "Nobody from the town called me and complained why we had that facility," she said. "It wasn't a huge issue here."
Behind the counter at Health Love and Soul Juice Bar and Grill a couple doors down from Greenleaf, Jarisi Anderson, said he's all for the new establishment. "It's a beautiful thing," he said.
His co-worker, Queen Townsend, fears the place could be a problem, but she believes she's in the minority. "The people I've met in Montclair — I don't want to stereotype — a lot of people here smoke weed," she said. "They don't have a problem with that."
The guys smoking tobacco down the street at Fume, a cigar shop, said they aren't troubled by legalizing marijuana — medicinal or not. "It's a waste to lock somebody up for a nickel bag or a dime bag," said shop owner Ralph Alberto.
But the dispensary could give the non-Montclair residents who go there to protest another cause.
Last week, Bernadette Grant stood across the street from the dispensary's neighboring abortion clinic with rosary beads in one hand and anti-abortion pamphlets in the other. She said she considers medical marijuana in the same category as abortion.
"This is not pro-life ," she said. "This is pro-death."
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