New Jersey announces expansion of medical marijuana program

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The New Jersey Department of Health announced a plan on Monday to issue up to 108 more licenses for growers, manufacturers and retailers to participate in the state’s medical marijuana program.

“Due to the growing patient population served by the Medicinal Marijuana Program over the course of 2018 and 2019, and the projected future expansion outlined in the Department’s Biennial Report, the Department has determined that additional ATCs (Alternative Treatment Centers) are necessary to meet the needs of the population of qualified patients,” reads the announcement.

The Health Department also plans to issue 38 more licenses for cannabis Alternative Treatment Centers in the northern and central regions of the state and up to 32 for the southern region.

There are currently so many people in New Jersey that have been given permission to use medical cannabis that the state is consistently seeing product shortages which have resulted in high prices and long waiting times at retail locations.

“We are at a point where patients just cannot wait any longer for easily accessible, affordable therapy. This request for applications allows for specialization of businesses to increase medical product in our state,” said Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal.

New Jersey only has six cannabis ATCs with six more having been selected last year but that have yet to be licensed. These are all currently vertically integrated companies that both produce and dispense their products. This will be the first time that separate licenses will be given to cultivators, manufacturers and retailers.

The plan is to issue 30 licenses for cannabis manufacturers, up to 54 retail licenses, and 24 cultivation licenses that will be divided between three size-based classes of operators.  

“By allowing for three sizes of cultivation endorsements (5,000 square feet, 20,000 square feet and 30,000 square feet), we are increasing opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses to participate in the program,” said Elnahal.

Applications will be available beginning July 1 and must be returned by August 15.

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