Cannabis dispensary opens near the Jersey Shore, becoming 16th in N.J. – nj.com

A new medical marijuana dispensary opened in Neptune Friday, becoming the 16th in the state as New Jersey expands medical cannabis and looks to launch legal weed sales for people 21 and older.

Zen Leaf opened to patients at 10 a.m. at the site of a shuttered Smashburger. The company’s first dispensary in Elizabeth opened last spring.

“We’re expecting this to be a very busy store,” said Anthony Marsico, executive vice president of Verano, the Illinois-based company that runs Zen Leaf. “This is a widely underserved area.”

Eatontown has the only other dispensary in Monmouth or Ocean counties. It opened last summer.

Bordering five other towns and five busy highways, Neptune is a city accessible to many patients who want to buy from Zen Leaf.

Patients enrolled in the state’s medical marijuana program have long complained about long drives and product shortages. Under Gov. Phil Murphy, the program has grown to more than 100,000 patients, but the opening of new dispensaries has not kept pace.

The location, just minutes from Asbury Park, is also ideal for public sales.

But those won’t come quickly. New Jerseyans voted 2 to 1 to legalize marijuana in November, and Murphy signed a law in February to launch the industry. But the

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