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More pot dispensaries for Jersey

GLENN TOWNES Special to the AmNews | 4/25/2013, 11:47 a.m.

Gov. Chris Christie approved increased funding for the operation and administration of at least four more medical marijuana dispensaries in the Garden State last week in Trenton.

Under the new Christie budget, funding for the medical marijuana facilities would double from $800,000 to $1.6 million, thus making the controversial measure more widely available to patients. Currently, there is one facility in New Jersey, the Greenleaf Compassion Center in Montclair, which opened late last year. Additionally, there are about 1,000 patients registered to receive medical marijuana, with dozens more pending state review and approval.

In the past, Christie was leery of implementing the medical marijuana program--an initiative that had been signed into law by former Gov. Jon Corzine in 2010.

Christie had delayed the medical marijuana dispensation to chronically ill patients, in part due to the potential for widespread abuse by unscrupulous physicians and patients.

At a hearing last week in Trenton, State Budget Commissioner Mary O'Dowd said the snail's pace movement of implementing the dispensaries is due largely to complex federal guidelines and political wrangling. However, she added that the additional funding by the state may expedite the process.