WARETOWN – Medical cannabis patients in Ocean County can look forward to something in the near future: Access to their prescribed treatment will soon be closer to home.
There are currently no medical marijuana dispensaries in Ocean County. Many patients travel to Bellmawr, Eatontown, and Egg Harbor City to meet their prescriptions.
Justice Cannabis Co. – formerly known as Justice Grown, a Las Vegas company established its presence in New Jersey after receiving state licensing approval in December 2019. The company operates a marijuana cultivation facility in Ewing.
“Our mission is to bring affordable cannabis to patients,” said Todd Johnson, Justice Executive Vice President and Head of New Jersey Operations. “We want to do the same for regular users as soon as recreational cannabis becomes available in the state.”
Local government agencies have already approved the construction of the medical marijuana dispensary in Ocean Township. Construction is scheduled to begin in Waretown Town Center, where ShopRite is the main tenant. The 4,200 square meter pharmacy is opposite Route 9 and offers ample parking.
Prior to taking over the site on Route 9 that was once occupied by Sonic, Dunkin Donuts began assembling steel on the pad Justice plans to build a branch on.
Cannabis is not grown or manufactured at the Waretown facility. Medical marijuana patients will have a wide variety of products to choose from. This includes the flower itself and extractions in the form of vape cartridges, topicals, and tinctures.
The product will be shipped from Ewing or other authorized locations as needed to meet the needs of the patient.
Justice plans to open the Waretown pharmacy within the next year. In addition, the company is planning a retail operation in Ewing and is negotiating a third retail location in the country at an undisclosed location.
Justice’s vice president of marketing & interim national director of retail, Laureen Stowers, said the company’s business plan sees an emphasis on security.
“There is a whole security team that comes with running a retail store,” explained Stowers. “We found that residents really appreciate the extra layer of security and therefore welcome us to their communities. We also work closely with the local police authorities. “
New Jersey state laws allow the Township of Ocean to collect two percent of retail sales. The local education council set up a committee months ago and hopes the tax revenue can come to them. The school district continues to experience financial difficulties due to a cut in state aid.
Community officials have not commented on whether they would agree to divert the additional funds to the schools. They have also been reluctant to allow recreational grass to be sold – except on governmental orders from the state.
“The Township Committee and I believe that medicinal cannabis helps patients with health problems,” said Ocean Township Mayor Lydia Dodd. “Many chronically ill people have found relief with the help of their doctor.
“A person needs a prescription from a doctor in order to obtain cannabis,” continued Dodd. “When Justice Grown approached the township with her proposal, the township felt that this was the right place for this facility.”
New Jersey’s medical marijuana program currently serves approximately 104,000 patients and requires a diagnosis of a qualified medical condition as detailed below:
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
- Chronic pain
- Inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease
- Stubborn skeletal spasticity
- multiple sclerosis
- muscular dystrophy
- Opioid Use Disorder
- Positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Seizure disorders, including epilepsy
- Terminal illness with a prognosis of less than 12 months to live
- Tourette syndrome
Barnegat residents Gerry and Don McGrath were at the forefront of advocating medical cannabis legalization when their late son struggled with a rare gastrointestinal cancer in 2004. A doctor recommended marijuana as a means to help the young man who died at the age of 28.
The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act was only signed in 2010. In 2019, Governor Phil Murphy signed the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act, which significantly expanded New Jersey’s medical marijuana program.