New Jersey, Rhode Island Medical Cannabis Dispensaries Finally Poised to Open?

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The day when patients in New Jersey and Rhode Island can start purchasing medical marijuana from a licensed dispensary appears to be drawing near.

Both states have made significant progress over the past few weeks in clearing the way for the first cannabis dispensaries to open.

In New Jersey, the state health department has finally issued its first dispensary license to Greenleaf Compassion Center. Officials announced this week that Greenleaf can now launch its planned dispensary in Montclair whenever it’s ready.

In Rhode Island, officials overseeing the state’s MMJ program are now in the process of finalizing regulations on the industry, and the owners of two planned dispensaries said they hope to open by Jan. 1.

It’s about time.

The medical cannabis programs in both states have been bogged down by delays and other obstacles that pushed back the opening of dispensaries. These challenges even threatened to derail the programs entirely. At one point last year, for instance, the governor of Rhode Island halted the dispensary program over fears that the federal government would prosecute those involved.

The progress over the past few months in both states has been tangible. The opening of dispensaries will solidify MMJ on the East Coast and strengthen the entire industry, creating new opportunities not only for those involved directly with marijuana but also for entrepreneurs who want to start ancillary cannabis businesses.

Still, it’s hard not to be skeptical until dispensaries actually open their doors to patients. In New Jersey and Rhode Island – as well as Arizona, Washington DC and other new MMJ states – we’ve heard time and time again over the past few years that dispensaries are set to open. Yet, to date, not one has actually launched in any of these areas.

Image credit: tribalicious via flickr