The New Jersey Health Department has issued a permit to the third Alternative Treatment Center in the state, located in Woodbridge, to start growing medical marijuana.

Uriel Sinai, Getty Images

ATC's in Montclair and Egg Harbor have already been given the green light to grow medicinal pot.

"We at the Department of Health are continuing to work very hard to continue to move this program in the right direction and get more facilities up and running to give patients choice," says Health Commissioner Mary O'Dowd.

She says the Alternative Treatment Centers have faced several challenges, including problems structuring themselves as not-for-profit agencies, which was a requirement of the state, and also being accepted in different communities, but the program is finally gaining momentum and is starting to move forward.

Some critics say the Health Department has been slow to press ahead with the program, but O'Dowd believes meaningful progress is being made.

"We recognize there's a frustration out there," she says, "but we are trying to make this program very successful in the long run."

"We believe the best way to make this program successful for patients into the future is to make sure that it's built on the medical model that was envisioned by the Legislature when they passed this law, to ensure that doctors are part of the decision making process, to ensure that the laboratory testing gives patients and doctors the information they need to make educated decisions about the types of products patients are going to use."