Marijuana has arrived in Montclair.
Greenleaf Compassion Center, located at 395 Bloomfield Ave., opened today and became the first medical marijuana dispensary in New Jersey.
“We are excited,” said Joseph Stevens, board member and one of the chief financial officers, about finally opening up the dispensary. “For the patients of New Jersey, they finally are able to procure their medication in a safe environment.”
The dispensary had scheduled about 20 patient appointments this morning who came from throughout the state, said Stevens. There are more than 370 patients eligible to participate in the medical marijuana program in New Jersey, with many more in the application process.
The nondescript dispensary is located in the heart of Montclair’s bustling business district, next to restaurants and across from the Wellmont Theatre. The storefront windows are tinted black, and a security guard was stationed under the dispensary’s awning.
Julio Valentin Jr., another board member and one of the chief financial officers, said he is a longtime business owner in Montclair and was proud to open the first medical marijuana dispensary in town.
“Montclair has been great with us — the community, the town council, the mayor,” said Valentin. “I have been in this town 15 years and I couldn’t think of a better place for us to open up where it would be so accepting.”
The community, added Stevens, “are very welcoming to us — from the beginning.”
Since former Governor Jon Corzine legalized medical marijuana at the start of 2010, the process to open the Greenleaf has been a long one.
While the Montclair dispensary was issued a permit to sell medical marijuana in October, Stevens said the board delayed the opening until the state decided whether to charge the state’s 7-percent sales tax on the purchase of the drug.
The state determined at the end of November that marijuana would be a cash crop, and the sales tax would apply to all sales of the drug, according to NJ.com.
“There were a lot of hurdles to get through, that’s for sure,” said Stevens. “But that’s the nature of a new industry. The last issue was the tax issue.”
“We were kind of expecting” that the state would decide to charge sales tax, added Stevens. “Some of the sponsors of the bill had mixed feelings whether it should be taxed or not, so I think they’re going to explore it.”
The state does not charge sales tax for any other doctor prescribed medicine.
There are five other treatment centers which are currently seeking a permit from the state, according to the Department of Health.
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