South Jersey Marijuana Dispensary Won't Open Until Next Year

Marijuana is weighed and packaged for sale at the Northwest Patient Resource Center medical marijuana dispensary, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, in Seattle. Washington state is on the verge of becoming the first in the nation to let adults over 21 buy taxed, inspected marijuana at state-licensed shops. Supporters of Initiative 502 say allowing recreational pot sales could make drug laws a little more reasonable, prevent thousands of arrests a year, and bring Washington hundreds of millions of dollars to help pay for schools, health care and basic government services. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

 A medical marijuana dispensary that was expected to open for business in a warehouse near Atlantic City a month ago won't see any action this year.  After facing enormous hurdles, the owners now are looking at a grand opening next March. 

On Monday, the New Jersey Health Department granted final approval to the state's first marijuana dispensary - the Greenleaf Compassion Center in Montclair, in North Jersey. It likely will open before the end of the year. 

Compassionate Care Foundation has not been as lucky.  Last year, two Burlington County towns refused to approve its plans for a dispensary after angry residents stormed local meetings, saying they feared the sale of the drug would increase crime in their neighborhoods.  The drug is restricted to the very ill and the state requires stringent security measures but the people were not convinced.   

In January, the company finally was welcomed by Egg Harbor Township.  Plans were made to open in September.  But when the state's extensive background checks dragged on for months, CEO William J. Thomas reset the target date for December.  

On Monday, that changed again.  Thomas said in an email that his company is now eyeing March for its grand opening.  He didn't explain and couldn't be reached for comment.  He was glad Greenleaf finally got its final approvals. 

Patients who have been anxiously waiting for a South Jersey dispensary to supply them with a drug that is believed to ease pain, nausea and other symptoms, will have to wait.