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New Jersey Medical Cannabis Prices Are Nation’s Highest, Report Shows

Patients enrolled in New Jersey’s medical cannabis program are paying about 37 percent more per ounce than their counterparts in states with similar programs, according to a state Health Department report.

The five dispensaries in the state charge an average of $489 per ounce, while the average price at dispensaries in Arizona, New Mexico, Vermont, Maine and Rhode Island is $311 per ounce. The study took into consideration that those five states also have a 10 percent lower cost of living than New Jersey.

The report noted that the Drug Enforcement Agency found that the price of “hydroponic black market marijuana” in the state is around $400 to $450 per ounce.

Taking into consideration that Alternative Treatment Centers are held to rigorous cultivation and production standards in the state – cultivation, packaging and dispensing occur in “sanitary environments” and cannabis is grown without pesticides – the report concluded that “no ATCs are charging excessive prices for medical marijuana.”

“New Jersey medicinal marijuana is regulated and tested, patients are afforded protection under the Act and are able to change ATC affiliation at any time at no cost,” the report said. “ATCs are required to pay federal corporate tax at a rate of 34 percent.”

The 34 percent corporate tax equates to $166.26 per ounce sold at the $489 rate.

In an interview with Philly.com, Michael Nelson, general manager of Compassionate Sciences in Bellmawr, objects to the report’s accuracy. He says it fails to take into consideration monthly discounts and reduced prices for low-income patients, whose final price is closer to $300.

Donna Leusner, spokesperson for the Department of Health, said in the report that in addition to the discounts granted by some dispensaries to certain customers, about 48 percent of program participants receive a discount on their registration fee, cutting it from $200 to $20.         

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