Montclair’s Medical Marijuana Dispensary Opens Today

Montclair’s Greenleaf Compassion Center, the state’s first medical marijuana dispensary, emerged from several years in the planning, licensing and regulatory stages, to officially open for business this morning.

Julio Valentin, Jr., COO of Greenleaf, located at 395 Bloomfield Avenue, said they were expecting between 20 and 30 customers today. All of them were prescribed the unconventional treatment by physicians, have registered with the state and received a special identification card. Back in October, Greenleaf told Baristanet that about 320 patients have signed up, while more than 175 physicians have registered.

Although no one other than card-carrying patients will be allowed inside, a news crew from NBC-TV was given a sneak peek of the facility, which has been described as a soothing, spa-meets-doctor’s-office environment. All patients have to make an appointment at Greenleaf. No walk-ins or curiosity seekers are allowed. “Unless you have your medical marijuana card you can’t come in,” Valentin said.

Citing privacy considerations, Greenleaf principals were unable to answer questions posed at a brief press conference this morning about the nature of the patients’ ailments, or where in the state they may be traveling from to obtain the product. Valentin notes, “Our intention is never to take care of whole state of New Jersey — it’s impossible, but we will do our best”

Cannabis has been shown to relieve extreme pain, staunch nausea and vomiting, and stimulate hunger in chemotherapy and AIDS patients, and to lower eye pressure for glaucoma sufferers. Valentin explained,”Different strains are made specifically for different types pain relief; so we have a low, medium, high level — which, no pun intended — is more of pain management, depending on level of pain.”

Marijuana is already legal for medical use in 18 states and the District of Columbia (and was recently approved for legal recreational use in Colorado), and many eyes are trained on Greenelaf and the facility’s Montclair location.

Here’s a video Baristanet shot at this morning’s press briefing.

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  1. I am a compassionate RN but I do not think having medical marijuana dispensed this way is appropriate. Let it be dispensed in a pharmacy. First, was it approved like all other drugs by the FDA? I also would be very cautious due to marijuana being a gate way drug. Maybe next the people will vote on having a different drug legalized for medical purposes ex. LSD. Studies showed that it helps neurological patients. I have researched much on this subject. Although, it may help with side affects with other medications, marijuana should be dispensed through a pharmacy as all other medications and should be held to the same standards. Giving a sincere name to this dispensaory does not fool anyone. The neighborhood now has a “Pot” shop next to other businesses. Let’s do it right so the people that need it won’t have their Hippa rights violated by them walking through the door and now media filming them. Let’s be gracious for the people that need this type of treatment.

  2. npezrn93, this is far more controlled than any pharmacy, you can only obtain access to this facility if you are a patient, and to become a patient you must first receive approval from a Doctor followed by an extensive application process with the State. This is far from being a “pot” shop, even though it would not be such a bad thing if it was.

  3. Also the FDA would never get involved because Marijuana is illegal on a Federal Level and the FDA is a part of the Federal Government.

  4. Its not a drug, its a plant, put here by God herself; a plant that happens to have properties that help people. Why would anyone have a problem with that?

  5. Yes exactly! It comes from a plant, therefore it is good, and should be dispensed freely, along with the by-products of juniper, poppies, hemlock and poison ivy. And fossil fuels are organic!

  6. “Liberals should be very proud of themselves, deciding which vices are acceptable.”

    —yes, how dare Liberals use FACTS to make decisions!! we hate facts.

  7. with this plant, you don’t need by-products.

    poison ivy is not illegal
    poppies are not illegal, i had some on my bagel this morning, yet its illegal to grow industrail hemp.
    juniper is not illegal
    don’t know much about junipers

    Cannabis is not good because its a plant, its good because it helps people. Walleroo, we know your against weed. You should not use it. But why do you want to prohibit others from using it who don’t find it objectionable, or find that it relieves them from suffering?

  8. I feel a migraine coming on!

    Seriously, it’s great this is available for people who need it. As far as making it legal for everyone, it would probably take a load off local police, would get rid of the underground market and provide tax dollars.

    As far as harmless – disagree. Smoking is smoking and damages your lungs. The drug does have an effect on the brain, and is abused by many, the same way that alcohol is abused. Also, plants may be “natural”, but there are many that are harmful to humans. And we do regulate the use of opiates which are derived from poppies.

  9. You can smoke it all you want banner, I don’t care. I am actually in favor of legalizing it. But it’s a recreational drug and should be recognized and regulated as such.

    The It’s-natural-it-must-be-good argument makes me crazy. Everything natural is not good. Arsenic is natural. Violence is natural. Rape is natural. (Have you ever seen chimps in the wild? They f*ck one another indiscriminately, and males, so far as I can tell, don’t ask politely.) Nature is red in tooth and claw. She doesn’t give a sh*t about us.

    What also makes me crazy is the whole “medical” ruse behind the back-door legalization of marijuana. Let’s face it, banner, a few people might have a legitimate reason to get high to relieve pain, but we’re talking about recreational use here. Call a spade a spade.

    I suppose you could argue that getting high relieves the pain of existence. But that’s got nothing to do with medicine.

    The argument that marijuana has no deleterious side effects is also phony. True, it’s nowhere near as dangerous as, say, opiates, but even occasional use comes with some cognitive impairment. I don’t know about you, but I need all the mental faculties I can muster.

  10. banner – Juniper is not illegal. Gin is made from juniper. I had some with my tonic and lime this morning.

  11. Baristanet has gone on and on about this one. Far more than it has about matters of actual import.

    And only, I strongly suspect, to attract sniggering upon sniggering from its posters. Whatever one makes of the case for legalizing marijuana, coverage here amounts to nothing more than pandering. Really, too, including the word “compassion’ in such a facility’s name doesn’t quite cover up the profit motive behind it all if we’re being honest here. Drug dealers don’t really operate in the open-hearted spirit of Johnny Appleseed, though that was an argument seriously offered up by some as far back as the 60’s.

  12. in states like California and previously Colorado, where Cannabis was legalized for medical purposes, I agree, its a ruse for legal recreational use. This is what the activists had to do on the path to full legalization. Now that they see that the world didn’t end, Colorado and Washington have taken it the proper stop forward. New Jersey’s law, on the other hand, is very restrictive to a few very serious illnesses that qualify. And even if you’re unlucky enough to have one of these diseases, there are major bureaucratic hurdles to jump through to get this plant legitimately. and we all know how easy it is to get it illegally.

    What can we say other than its a step in the right direction.

    as others have said, smoke is harmful, but you can easily ingest or vaporize cannabis, without the harmful combustion of plant material. you say cognitive impairment, i say enhanced creative thought.

  13. I wouldn’t mind seeing the complete legalization of marijuana.

    The one thing that gives me pause is our destructive culture of consumption. The same dynamic prompted millions to take out loans they could not afford, buy items on credit and even exponentially increase the rate of obesity in this country. We are not responsible, we are not disciplined and this is what scares me about opening this up. We cannot help ourselves.

  14. “you say cognitive impairment, i say enhanced creative thought.”

    As long as you’re not driving a vehicle while you’re enhancing your creative thoughts. Or performing surgery.

    Honestly, most of the long term stoners I know have real issues. Some have actually wound up limiting their creative abilities.

  15. The CliffsNotes summary of cathar’s breathtaking 1:08 PM post, for those in a hurry:

    “Baristanet…. Sniggering….. Pandering”

    Now back to work for me….

  16. The reason for dispensing it in a facility such as this, as opposed to a pharmacy, makes it harder for people to buy and then 1. sell it or 2. share it with friends. You have to smoke/eat it there.

    And yes, I agree with JG, smoking is smoking. I realize that you don’t smoke a pack of pot (as you would with cigarettes) a day but it’s still not great for your lungs. It’s naive to think that used for recreational purposes, it has no side effects, or that everything “natural” is good for you.

    That being said, in addition to relieving pain in some people, it has been proven to stimulate appetite in cancer and AIDS patients and that’s a good thing.

  17. Martta – are you sure about the statement that it must be used in the store? I have not heard that anywhere…are you sure about that?

  18. It doesnt have to be used in the store that’s not true at all, if that were the case they’d be sending people off to drive home high.

  19. Does the condition TRW (tired repetitive windbag) qualify for a prescription? Something to take their mind off slow news days and allow the realization that there is a whole big world out there to explore with more to offer then pretending to be able to look down their nose at anyone.

  20. I agree with bannerchemical, and others who say it should be legal, for both medicinal and recreational purposes, the latter of which should be taxed. Having partaken of both pot and alcohol, I and many others would opine that alcohol is more debilitating and more addictive. We can’t legislate against addiction and substance abuse any more than we can legislate celibacy before marriage: we can only manage it intelligently. Humans were seeking alternative states of consciousness before they could write, according to Robert Graves.

    Today I had to show my driver’s license to buy some Mucinex D, and sign an agreement. How nuts is that? How much would you have to buy to make crystal meth, and would it be cost effective to drive to every drug store in the state to do so? Not that I think crystal meth should be legal — I don’t. But we have allowed our war on drugs to overcrowd our prisons, and render our over-the-counter-cold-remedy-purchasing stupid, to no avail. And wasted a lot of resources doing so.

  21. hrh, while I think that medicinal marijuana may provide hope for those in the early stages of TRW, unfortunately there is little hope for those in the advanced stages. Sadly, I believe that there is no hope for them.

    All that the compassionate can do at that point is to try to make the sufferer comfortable. Perhaps plenty of fluffy pillows, a Thesaurus, maybe a leather jacket from a motorcycle club could help. Also useful might be the ability to act as though one believes just a smidgen of the torrent of BS that the unfortunate soul is prone to mutter or, true horror, WRITE once the end is near.

    We must always remember — it is the sickness talking, not the poor blighted creature we see before us. There but for the grace of God, after all…..

  22. @algb

    —“one man’s FACT is another man’s douchebag fantasy”

    true enough. i think of that a lot when listening to tea bagger politicians discoursing about reproductive rights.

    but there are indeed quantifiable facts, algb, no matter what the simpleminded among us want to believe.

    i’m sorry if that is problematic for you.

  23. @npezrn93,

    Marijuana has been proven NOT to be a gateway drug. The highest (no pun intended) risk leading to stronger drugs is 1) Prescription pain killers and 2) Cigarettes. Marijuana was approved for medicinal purposes for hundreds of years before the FDA was founded. As far as Hippa is concerned, I would feel more in violation walking into a CVS where I have to whisper in a crowd buying milk, stationary and laundry detergent. At least this dispensary has a locked door. This is no different than walking out of the oncology wing of a hospital. People who see you walk out of there and know you have cancer. People see you walk out of a dispensary and they don’t know if it is cancer, chrons or sciatica.
    I do not smoke marijuana and even if it was as legal as a beer I still wouldn’t smoke it. With that said, I am 100% supportive of the medicinal qualities it holds and anyone who tries and interfere with palliative care should stay a safe distance from me. As a patient advocate and a Nurse myself, I do not bring my opinion to a plan of care.

  24. I knew a handful of fellow freshmen back in 1977, afflicted with glaucoma, friends of my blind roommate. They smoked grass regularly, it eased the pressure behind their eyes. I am glad I met them, even though I didn’t share their ailment, if y’all catch my drift…

  25. Marijuana certainly can be a gateway drug if the purveyor is involved the the distribution of a broader array of products. It is clearly recreational, and less habit forming than alcohol. Legalizing it and controlling its distribution would have many direct and indirect benefits, not least of them would be putting the corner dealer out of business.

  26. Herb, maybe you can start a markets / economic section column here on Bnet. I think 7 and change U3 will become the norm and under Obama the bigger story will become underemployment and the lack of jobs that pay a decent wage.

    He is way too focused on dividing the pie based on his notion of “fair share” instead of growing the pie.

  27. “I am actually in favor of legalizing it….Call a spade a spade.”

    The ends don’t justify the means walleroo? I’m beginning to doubt your liberal bona fides.

    I pity the parent trying to raise a non-pot-head teenager now. It will be seriously more difficult.

  28. Pity the parent? The kids most likely grow out of it after college, once they are burdened with more responsibilities.

    And how exactly do you raise a non-pot-head teenager? Or for that matter, how do you raise a pot-head teenager?

  29. Raising a teenager who doesn’t smoke pot is tough in this town, that’s for sure. The ethos is that it’s all okay, everybody does it, which I believe is a direct result of the tone set by parents.

    I would much rather legalization and a prevailing ethos that says: pot smokers are losers.

  30. “I pity the parent trying to raise a non-pot-head teenager now. It will be seriously more difficult.”

    I pity the parents trying to raise an alcohol free child, or one who isn’t a prescription pill popping child, or an in shape child, or one who can think for themselves….

    to say this is the slippery slope to all heck breaking loose is silly and short sighted. When prohibition ended kids didn’t all become alcoholics. When cars were invented they all didn’t drive off cliffs. When we educated kids on safe sex in the 80’s it didn’t make every kid run out and hook up like the hand wringers predicted.

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