New Jersey's first state-authorized medical marijuana dispensary will not be opening on time.

Governor Chris Christie
Annette Petriccione, Townsquare Media

The state Department of Health says that Greenleaf Alternative Treatment Center will not be ready to open for several weeks because it does not have its final certificate of occupancy from Montclair Township.

Speaking last night on Townsquare Media's "Ask The Governor" program, Governor Christie said he feels for patients who are suffering as they wait for the state's medical marijuana law to become operational.

"I'm trying to implement the program in a responsible way, but I can't force a town to give a certificate of occupancy to a tenant they don't believe has met their standards in their town."

He said, "This bill was passed in a rush in January of 2010 because they wanted to get it in under the wire while Governor Corzine was still here. The bill was without much thought - they didn't know how they were going to enforce standards or anything else. We essentially had to remake the bill by regulation because it was so poorly written...It was signed at 3 o'clock in the morning by my predecessor on the morning I was being sworn in as Governor."

Christie said his message to patients is, "I want to get you the help as quickly as I can, but I am not going to turn New Jersey into Colorado and California, where people can get pot for a migraine headache. I am simply not going to do that. I am not going to expose our children to that I am not going to expose our families to that."

He also said he's not surprised that only about 240 people have registered for the program.

"The sponsors of this legislation embellished the level of demand, and I think the proof is in the pudding."