First NJ Medical Marijuana Dispensary Opens to More Media Than Clients

David Cruz for NJ Today |

The operators of the Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center on Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair had their hands full dealing with eager media, posting security guards at the door in an effort to keep the entrance clear for actual clients. There were only a few of those today, and each arrival prompted a media crush. Clients were in no mood to talk to reporters. TV camera drew the curious, including Kevin McMillon, who hoped to pitch novelty T-shirts to the center. He said the facility could be a big help to people who really need it.

“Unless you’re in that person’s predicament, you don’t know what type of pain they feel,” he said as he waited outside. “If this helps ease the pain or something, why not?”

David Cruz of NJ Today reports from outside the Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center in Montclair, N.J., on its first day of operations on Dec. 6, 2012.

Lumengo Bayé, who runs Health Love Soul, a café and grill two doors down from the center, says she welcomes them and hopes they can focus on the mission of providing care and not attract kids just looking to score some weed.

“I’m not for it or against it,” she said. “If people get what they need and are not abusing it, I’m all for it, so if they pop up all over the place and the people who are opening these places abide by the rules, then I’m all for it.”

Only about 20 patients of the close to 500 who have registered across the state had made an appointment at the center for today. A state inspector was stationed inside to monitor the first day of activity. Pedro Guzman was turned away. He said he was told to call the state health department.

“The reason I’m here is because I’m basically trying to get all the information that I need in order to obtain a license and/or a prescription,” he said.

Guzman will be disappointed to learn that the pain from his herniated disc does not qualify as an acceptable condition under the state law.

Patients can only purchase a half-ounce of cannabis at their first consultation. There’s a limited supply of legal cannabis and operators want to make sure there’s enough to go around. Patients had to show their registration card to get inside and were required to meet with staff to go over medical history to determine what strain would be most effective.

Operators of the facility are hopeful that after today some of the media attention will die down and their clients will be able to get into and out of the facility more easily and that they’ll be able to do their job, which is to provide compassionate care.

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