Report on NJ medical marijuana suggests major expansion to meet need

David Madden
April 04, 2019 - 2:02 pm

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TRENTON, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — As New Jersey legislators wrestle with whether to legalize adult-use marijuana, health officials in the state have issued a report suggesting that demand for medical marijuana is high enough that the program must expand to help those in need.

There are a half-dozen cultivators and dispensaries statewide. Six more are coming. But the biennial report issued by the health department suggests there’s a need to double the number of growers and run at least 50 retail outlets across the state, in part, to bring down the price of the product. 

"A lot of patients who don’t get discounts are sometimes paying $100 more than what’s reported to be the illegal market price," Assistant Health Commissioner Jeff Brown said.

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The report also suggests participation in the program, which now stands at 44,000 people, could reach 180,000 or more by January of 2022.

Gov. Phil Murphy is tying expansion to the adult-use legalization, but he has indicated he’ll move on the medical front by next month if a logjam in the state senate can’t be broken. The expansion can be done without legislative approval, but there are issues that would require a change in the law.

Among them, a push to raise the 2 oz. monthly limit that can be prescribed by a doctor.

"We found evidence that there are patients who purchase up to that limit on a consistent basis and may need to purchase more," Brown added.

A bill currently under consideration would raise that limit to 3 oz. a month, with an unlimited supply available to a patient with a terminal diagnosis. The bill would also allow for home delivery and phase out the state sales tax on the product.