EATONTOWN – Monmouth County could soon have a medical marijuana dispensary to call its own. 

Garden State Dispensary, headquartered in Woodbridge, received approval from the Department of Health to open a satellite medical marijuana dispensary in Eatontown, DOH spokeswoman Donna Leusner said in an email. 

While the dispensary was approved to “move forward” in the process to open a satellite dispensary, the state still must issue a permit once it “has determined the site meets all of our regulatory requirements,” Leusner said. 

Eatontown Mayor Anthony Talerico said Garden State Dispensary’s proposed location of 59 Route 35, near the entrance to the former Fort Monmouth property, qualifies as a permitted use in town under existing zoning.

Talerico said the town has had multiple discussions with operators of potential medical marijuana dispensaries, most recently at the July 10 council meeting, where one group discussed its plans to apply for a license in the Department of Health’s most recent round of licenses.

The council plans to discuss the matter further at its next council workshop, as well as welcome proposals from other applicants seeking to open a dispensary in town.

Talerico has called on the town council to “define and set appropriate zoning” for medical marijuana uses.

“This year, for the upcoming round, we have received inquiries. Some may come to the council for support in their application and council may choose to support some, all or none,” Talerico said. “Again, as last year, if they win a license they can open in town. If they don’t, ones who win elsewhere may open here as a satellite location of a winner.”

Medical marijuana patients and advocates have clamored for a dispensary to open at the Jersey Shore virtually since the program began. Nearly 17 percent of the state’s medical marijuana patients live in Monmouth or Ocean counties, according to data from the Health Department. 

But without a dispensary here, patients are left with drives of an hour or more in order to purchase medical marijuana.

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Officials along the Shore have never been particularly welcoming to medical marijuana businesses. Freeholders in both Monmouth and Ocean Counties passed ceremonial resolutions opposing marijuana legalization and many municipalities have passed ordinances banning marijuana businesses, including medical marijuana dispensaries. 

In Brick, plans for a medical marijuana dispensary and cultivation center never got a full hearing before the zoning board after neighbors revolted, claiming that the project would lower property values and increase crime.

And when the Department of Health accepted applications for six new medical marijuana dispensaries last year, 10 different companies were linked to addresses in Monmouth or Ocean though none were successful. 

The preliminary approval of Monmouth County’s first medical marijuana dispensary comes as participation in the program is expected to skyrocket.

Last week, Gov. Phil Murphy signed the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act into law, which you can learn more about in a video at the top of the page. In addition to increasing the monthly limit for patients to 3 ounces, the bill also: 

  • Legalizes edible forms of medical marijuana, including food and oils, for adults.
  • Establishes a Cannabis Regulatory Commission to oversee the program and issue licenses for new dispensaries, cultivators, manufacturers and transporters.
  • Removes the requirement that doctors maintain a “bona fide” relationship with patients in order to get them in the program, potentially clearing the way for patients to get qualified on the first visit.
  • Allows medical marijuana dispensaries to operate outdoor cannabis consumption areas for patients.
  • Permits home deliveries of medical marijuana to patients over 21 years old.

Last month, the Department of Health announced it would take applications for over 100 new medical marijuana licenses, including individual dispensaries, cultivation centers and manufacturing facilities.

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TheStreet visits the Garden State Dispensary, one of three medical marijuana dispensaries in the state of New Jersey. New Jersey legalized medicinal marijuana, but the state is much more restrictive than other states like California. Newslook

Mike Davis writes about the seemingly never-ending push to legalize marijuana in New Jersey, including the effects it would have on the economy, the black market and regular people. No, he can’t tell you where to buy illegal drugs. Contact him at mdavis@gannettnj.com or @byMikeDavis.

When Jersey Shore native Dan Radel is not reporting the news, you can find him in a college classroom where is a history professor. Reach him @danielradelapp; 732-643-4072; dradel@gannettnj.com 

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