New Jersey’s Newest Medical Marijuana Dispensary Is Now Open For Business — In Secaucus

Photo Credit: Chris Monroe

The state’s newest medical marijuana dispensary received a state permit Monday and opened for business in Secaucus.

Harmony Dispensary, a mile from the Secaucus Junction rail station, offers eight strains of marijuana — with names like “Girl Scout Cookies” and “Purple Crack” — with more to come in the months ahead, the company said. The foundation that operates the dispensary was approved to grow the heavily regulated crop in July.

“Our system of continuous planting and harvesting has already provided an inventory that should help alleviate any bottlenecks or pent-up demand in the state at this time,” said Shaya Brodchandel, the Harmony Foundation’s chief executive officer.

With more patients registering to purchase marijuana for medical use, and a measure pending in the Legislature to legalize cannabis sales in New Jersey, Brodchandel said he expects demand to increase, and is seeking to expand production. The dispensary is open seven days a week.

Business was brisk Monday in the small shop, where two shelves held mason jars of ground flowers and small magnifying jars to show the full buds.

“Bud techs” in black T-shirts described the different strains to the customers, who were buzzed in through a locked door and presented their state-issued medical-marijuana registration cards before being allowed into the showroom.

“You’ll love ‘Strawberry,’ ” Kyleigh Carney told Alan Schwartz, a Pompton Lakes man who uses cannabis to help his multiple sclerosis symptoms. “You’ll get that head high and get some energy.”

Schwartz had been to another dispensary but wanted to try the different strains offered in Secaucus to see if they helped him more. He uses the drug in the morning to help get up and deal with nausea, he said.

Another customer, Richard Kavanagh of Toms River, said he had been to each of the five other dispensaries.

“I always like to try a new strain,” he said. “If you stick with one, I think you develop a tolerance.”

After consulting with a bud tech, he bought ⅛-ounce of Strawberry and ⅛-ounce of Purple Crack.

Photo Credit: Chris Monroe

The marijuana retails for $480 an ounce.

A hundred patients a day have been enrolling in the state’s medical marijuana program since Gov. Phil Murphy took office, bringing the total to 23,200, the state Health Department said Monday.

The Harmony Dispensary, at 600 Meadowlands Parkway, offers three forms of the product — whole buds, pre-ground flowers, and pre-rolled cones or “joints” — and expects to have extracts available in the future, a spokeswoman said. Discounts are available to veterans, seniors and children who are patients.

“We’re the Henry Ford of marijuana production,” said Leslie Hoffman, the foundation’s communications director.

Each day in the grow house, which is in the same building as the dispensary, two tables of marijuana are harvested and two tables are planted, continuously updating the inventory.

The facility uses tulip-growing technology from the Netherlands and a combination of agricultural systems from Israel, Canada and the United States to grow the plants in a secure, sterile, controlled environment that uses no natural light, Hoffman said. Each strain is tested in the state Health Department laboratory, with measurements of the active ingredients provided.

As one of his first initial acts, Murphy took steps to ease the registration requirements and broaden the conditions for which medical marijuana can be used.

Anxiety, migraines, Tourette’s syndrome and two types of chronic pain were added to the list. About 6,000 of the registered patients have chronic pain.

“The Murphy administration is committed to making New Jersey’s medicinal marijuana program more consumer-friendly and responsive to all patients,” said Dr. Shereef Elnahal, the state health commissioner. The new dispensary, or alternative treatment center, is intended to serve the northern part of the state, but patients can go to any of them. They are limited to 2 ounces a month.

Six dispensaries were authorized when the law permitting medical marijuana to be sold was signed by Gov. Jon Corzine in the waning days of his administration. The other dispensaries are in Montclair, Egg Harbor, Woodbridge, Cranbury and Bellmawr.

Gov. Chris Christie, a staunch opponent of legalized marijuana, implemented the law. The Health Department’s permitting process for new growers was modeled after the background checks for casino operators.

Murphy asked for a top-to-bottom review of the medical marijuana program shortly after he took office, to eliminate bureaucratic barriers and expand access. Fees have been lowered, additional patients and physicians have enrolled, and the program has been elevated within the Health Department.

On Monday, regulations to implement those changes were formally proposed.