N.J. may add nearly 100 weed dispensaries

N.J. may add nearly 100 weed dispensaries

15 Nisan 2018 - 02:00

New Jersey could see nearly 100 medical marijuana dispensaries under a revised plan to bolster the state's medical marijuana program, which state officials recently advanced.

Last month, Gov. Phil Murphy called for several key changes to New Jersey's medical marijuana program, including adding more places patients could buy weed and getting rid of a requirement that prevented some doctors for participating.

Murphy's call has largely been answered by a bill that was passed last week by an Assembly committee, meaning it now awaits a full vote in that chamber. The bill pulls ideas from several plans that have previously been proposed and has been sponsored by eight members of the Assembly.

"So far this is clearly the most comprehensive medical marijuana bill we've seen," said Ken Wolski, executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey.

The plan only affects the medical marijuana program in New Jersey and is separate from the ongoing debate about recreational marijuana in the state.

Below are the biggest changes suggested in the new plan.

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NJCI Garden State Dispensary in Woodbridge grows and sells medical cannabis
Andre Malok | NJ Advance Media
Nearly 100 dispensaries

Only five dispensaries are currently open in New Jersey, with a sixth set to open its doors soon. This plan allows up to 92 additional dispensaries for a maximum total of 98. The bill also allows up to 15 marijuana growers across the state, up from six that are currently licensed.

The six dispensaries already licensed would be permitted to each open two satellite dispensaries for a total of 18 locations. That would leave up to 80 licenses for new dispensaries.

But those maximum numbers may not be reached. It all depends on demand for medical marijuana in the state.

Within six months of the bill passing, the state would have to start accepting applications for 40 additional dispensaries and six additional marijuana growers. If after two years the market still can't meet demand, the state would be allowed to issue up to 40 additional dispensary licenses and three additional cultivation licenses. 

NJCI Garden State Dispensary in Woodbridge grows and sells medical cannabis
Andre Malok | NJ Advance Media
No need for doctors to register

Another point from Murphy's wishlist, doctors would no longer have to register with the state to be able to recommend marijuana to patients if the bill is passed.

There are currently 536 doctors on the state's list of doctors that can recommend marijuana. New Jersey has more than 28,000 doctors, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

If this change were to take effect, people could talk to their personal doctor about using medical marijuana.

All patients can buy edibles

Medical marijuana patients in Colorado and California have long had access to a variety of products. Cannabis flower, oil and edibles, to name a few. In New Jersey, only one dispensary sells more than flower and only minors have been permitted to use edibles.

Under this plan, the cannabis producers would be able to make more products, including edibles and oils, drastically increasing selection at dispensaries.

NJCI Garden State Dispensary in Woodbridge grows and sells medical cannabis
Andre Malok | NJ Advance Media
Growers wouldn't be restrained

On a recent visit, Garden State Dispensary in Woodbridge had a couple dozen marijuana strains available for patients to buy. In the future they could have even more.

State regulations have limited the number of strains the medical marijuana providers are willing to grow. This bill clearly says that cultivators would be allowed to grow an unlimited number of strains.



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