The state is doubling the number of medicinal marijuana dispensaries to meet a growing demand of the state's medical marijuana program.
Gov. Phil Murphy said the state needs six new medicinal cannabis dispensaries, also known as alternative treatment centers, which will join six existing ATCs.
“Due to the steps that [Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal and I have taken since January, we have seen the addition of 10,000 new patients,” Murphy said in a statement Monday. “Accordingly, we have to expand the number of businesses who are growing product and serving patients.”
Application fees are $20,000 and due on Aug. 31, and the state will name six successful applicants on Nov. 1; $18,000 will be returned to unsuccessful applicants. Under Murphy, the health department added a handful categories that would make a patient eligible for medicinal marijuana: anxiety, migraines, Tourette’s syndrome, chronic pain related to musculoskeletal disorder and chronic visceral pain.
Of the 10,000 patients who signed up for the program since January, 6,300 fell under one of those categories, according to health department data. The medicinal marijuana program encompasses 25,000 patients, 1,000 caregivers and 700 physicians.
Lawmakers have vowed to pass a bill by the end of the summer that would legalize recreational marijuana. The 2019 budget includes $20 million from the expansion of the state’s existing medical marijuana program, but nothing from recreational weed, after they failed to pass a bill by the end of June.
But lawmakers and the Murphy administration have said they’re confident that by legalizing adult-use marijuana, the state could reap $40 million by the end of the current fiscal year next June 30.
Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-22nd District, one of the main advocates of expanding access to cannabis, said that pending the legalization of adult-use marijuana, users would purchase recreational weed at one of the 12 ATC’s.
“They’ve changed who's eligible, which is excellent,” Scutari told NJBIZ on Monday. “So people can get it more easily. But as a result of that you have a lot more people signing up.”
The Department of Health posted the Request for Applications online Monday morning, which lays out the application guideline and eligibility requirements for potential applications.
“Applicants would have to operate a dispensary and facilities that do cultivating and manufacturing and provide evidence of site control and verification of the approval of the governing body in the municipality where they intend to locate,” reads the notice.
The applicant will also have to submit a detailed business plan, which includes a budget outline revenues and expenses over a five-year period.