The Compassionate Care Foundation in Egg Harbor Township opened its doors to qualified patients Monday morning, making it now just the second medical marijuana dispensary in the state and the only one of its kind in South Jersey.
The state's first dispensary, the Greenleaf Compassion Center, opened last December in Montclair but has since faced difficulties in meeting demand. A third center in Woodbridge is currently in the works.
The new dispensary received its final permit from the state Department of Health earlier this month. As of Oct. 7, approximately 1,364 patients and caregivers had registered with the program. Some 242 physicians had also enrolled in the program, the state then said.
"This permit marks another significant step forward in the implementation of New Jersey's Medicinal Marijuana Program," health commissioner Mary O'Dowd said earlier this month in a statement. "The permitting of Compassionate Care Foundation to operate as an (alternative treatment center) will give registered patients more options in terms of geographic locations and the number of available strains."
In an interview given Friday to the Press of Atlantic City, Compassionate Care Foundation CEO Bill Thomas said that 600 patients had already registered with the center and that 200 appointments were already booked.
Thomas did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday morning.
Ken Wolski, chief executive officer for the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey, said today's opening was a step in the right direction towards broadening the program.
"We're glad to see any progress in the medicinal marijuana program, for certain," Wolski said.
But will Egg Harbor Township's center fall victim to some of the issues that have plagued the Montclair location? Wolski says it's "too soon to tell."