Thousands signed up for medical marijuana since Murphy took office

David Madden
May 01, 2018 - 4:23 pm
Medical marijuana in large jar at a legal marijuana dispensary.

TRENTON, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — New Jersey health officials said the state has reached a milestone in its medical marijuana program: A total of 20,000 people are now signed up.

Of that amount, 4,200 patients registered since Gov. Phil Murphy took office almost four months ago — an increase of 21 percent.

"That includes over 1,500 enrolled in the month of April since we announced the expansion of the program," said Assistant Health Commissioner Jeff Brown, "adding new conditions like chronic pain and anxiety to those treatable by medicinal marijuana."

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They've also lowered the cost to patients and loosened regulations on physicians. Overall, he said it's easier for everyone to use. And that's not the final reform to be added.

"We're looking at allowing alternative treatment centers that provide medicinal marijuana to open up satellite locations so patients can have better access," Brown said. "Right now, there's only five operational around the state."

They're also considering whether additional licensed treatment centers might be needed.

Brown said they're just trying to "change the culture" of the program, which was approved under former Gov. Jon Corzine but implemented in the opening months of former Gov. Chris Christie's administration.

During Christie's term, many complained that restrictions were so stringent, few patients could sign up and fewer doctors wanted to affiliate with the program.