EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — Patients on an approved list, staff and media were the only ones who could gain access inside the new medical marijuana facility on its first day of operation Monday. Police officers will be stationed at the facility, Compassionate Care Founda-tion, for the first three days, in addition to the armed security inside. The measures come as the township works to make sure the opening of the state’s second medical marijuana facility goes smoothly, Mayor James “Sonny” McCullough said.

Patients have to make an appointment to visit the center and walk-ins are not allowed at the location off Century Drive in The Offshore Commercial Park near Delilah Road.

No one tried to visit without preapproval except for some media crews, officers said Monday.

“We approved it because it’s the right thing to do,” McCullough said. “Other mayors and councils didn’t want it in their towns. But we know it’s going to be in a safe area of our town. We truly believe there is a medical need for it.”

McCullough added that the location of the facility is not a threat to the community.

“If you think about it, if you live next to a pharmacy — which we used to call drug stores — we’re talking about serious narcotics without the same level of security,” he said. “I feel very confident that this will be professionally run. We have a tremendous amount of security.”

The center grows everything inside the facility and is able to harvest the quantity needed to serve patients. It currently has a supply of more than 1,000 ounces and can produce 300 to 400 ounces more in the near future.

The state legalized medical marijuana in 2010 for patients with debilitating conditions, including terminal cancer, multiple sclerosis or muscular dystrophy. New Jersey’s first dispensary opened in December in Montclair, Essex County

State regulations require patients to be approved by qualified doctors and registered for alternative treatment. The legal alternative treatment centers then contact the patient to make an appointment.

Compassionate Care Foundation CEO Bill Thomas said Friday the appointment book is already full through November, with 200 appointments booked and 600 patients registered.

More than 1,300 patients and more than 240 doctors have enrolled in the state program.

Contact Anjalee Khemlani:

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