After a series of delays, a Montclair medical marijuana dispensary Monday received state approval to start legally growing the cannabis plant.
Greenleaf Compassion Center was issued a permit by the Department of Health and Senior Services to grow the medicinal marijuana “after a comprehensive review including background checks of Greenleaf’s officers, several site visits by the Medicinal Marijuana Program to its grow facility and Department approval of Greenleaf’s safety and security systems,” the department stated in a press release.
But the dispensary cannot open for business yet. The state said that it will issue Greenleaf Compassion a permit to operate as an Alternative Treatment Center (ATC), including the additional authority to dispense medicinal marijuana, “once its Montclair dispensary is operational and has been inspected by the state,” according to the press release.
Greenleaf has already renovated space for its dispensary, which will be located at 395 Bloomfield Ave. That space was once occupied by the Inner Eye Boutique, a so-called head shop.
Greenleaf will have to satisfy the health department “that it is in compliance with all of the regulations of the Medicinal Marijuana Program,” according to the press release.
This marks the first permit that the state health department has issued for a medical marijuana facility, said Donna Leusner, department director of communications. Greenleaf is one of six such facilities planned for the state. The nonprofit will not disclose where it will be growing its legal marijuana.
Greenleaf officials have criticized Gov. Chris Christie’s administration with dragging its feet on granting approvals for medical marijuana dispensaries, and they claim their Montclair dispensary is ready to go. The state claims differently.
“Greenleaf has to do a number of things, including hire staff and have the backgrounds of those staff vetted,” Leusner said. “Their dispensing site has to be inspected by the department … The department makes no apologies for thoroughly vetting the owners and operators of ATCs. We feel safe and secure operation of this program is in the best interests of patients, the public and the ATCs.”
While happy about getting the first permit, Greenleaf chief operating officer Julio Valentin expressed concern about other issues.
“Not that I expected to get both permits at the same time, but I guess the only thing I’d like to say is I think the state is taking a step in the right direction, except I would like to see it expedited a little faster,” Valentin, the former owner of Montclair‘s now-closed Eclectic Café, told The Montclair Times.