A new medical marijuana dispensary is scheduled to open in South Jersey in the coming weeks.
Compassionate Care Foundation, Inc. is expected to open a facility in Egg Harbor Township, just outside of Atlantic City, in mid-September.
All that's left is a final state inspection, the last step before a permit to dispense can be issued.
The review involves, among other things, making sure the space is properly secured and that employee and operations manuals are in place.
If approved, the facility would be just the second dispensary in the state that's considered to have the strictest regulations for medicinal pot in the country.
Legislation legalizing medical marijuana took effect in the state in January 2010.
Jay Lassiter, one of the 1,000 patients registered with the state's medical marijuana program, is skeptical that the Egg Harbor site will open in September. But he said there's no doubt it'll make life a lot easier whenever it does.
The Cherry Hill resident lives two hours from the state's lone dispensary in Montclair.
"I look forward to having my medical needs served in a more convenient manner," said Lassiter, who smokes medicinal marijuana when he needs to settle his stomach.
Lassiter has had HIV for the past two decades.
The bevy of medications he takes each day sometimes make him sick, but he can't skip taking the pills that keep him alive.
"I'm trying to imagine what it would be like if I had to drive two hours to pick up my HIV meds or if a diabetic had to drive two hours to pick up insulin," he said.
Rosanne Scotti, the New Jersey state director for the Drug Policy Alliance, said the state still needs more dispensaries. The Greenleaf Compassion Center in Montclair, she noted, was only set up to only handle 300 patients.
The facility reportedly closed briefly this month after running through its supply.
"We have just an incredibly long waiting list for patients to get appointments and to access their medicine," said Scotti. "For some of them, they're just never going to be able to access their medicine with just one program or even with two when the second one opens."
The state has licensed six "alternative treatment centers." Donna Leusner, a spokeswoman with the state's Department of Health, said three more dispensaries are in the works. It's unclear when they may open.
A message left for Compassionate Care Foundation CEO William Thomas was not immediately returned.