Pending approval from the state department of health, Freehold has taken the first step toward having the first medical marijuana dispensary in Monmouth County.

Garden State Botanicals, a company looking to open a medical marijuana facility on Throckmorton street in Freehold, the Monmouth County seat, received approval of its application at a city council meeting on Monday. Likewise, Garden State Dispensary, headquartered in Woodbridge, received approval from the Department of Health to open a satellite medical marijuana dispensary in Eatontown.

Forget the hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax revenue that will likely be generated for both boroughs — the other thing that makes these two towns a good fit is that Monmouth and Ocean counties have come to be known as the “epicenter” of the state’s opioid epidemic, and some studies have shown that medical marijuana can be used in the treatment of opioid addiction.

In fact, New Jersey is one of three states that explicitly permits the use of medical marijuana to fight opioid addiction (a fourth, Maryland, is considering it). While others dispute the findings of these studies, the fact remains that medical marijuana patients in these two counties are getting a raw deal, having to travel an hour or more to full their prescriptions.

Additionally, Freehold and Eatontown are two great choices for these facilities because although 17% of all medical marijuana patients come from Icean and Monmouth counties, neither county has yet to house one. In fact, both have fought hard to keep the dispensaries from opening there. These two could be the first, giving medical marijuana patients-and possibly opioid addicts-in Monmouth and ocean counties the support they need.

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