Lev Lazinskiy

New Jersey MMJ Expansions Stalled By Too Many Applications

The New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) announced it will not meet a deadline to award the state’s second wave of dispensary licenses by November 1, NJ.com reports.

Gov. Phil Murphy called for a doubling of the number of dispensaries in the state in July, raising the total from six to 12. The Department of Health received 146 applications for the six additional licenses. The overwhelming number of applicants has staggered the DOH and caused delays in the selection process.

“Additional time is needed to complete a full review of these applications. Each of the reviewers must read more than 40,000 pages of material (each application averages 300 pages). The reviewers are working as quickly as possible, and the department will announce the successful applicants as soon as the review is complete.” — New Jersey Department of Health statement, via NJ.com

New Jersey’s medical cannabis program has been growing rapidly, with currently more than 33,000 patients enrolled. The state has committed to expanding the program alongside enrollment but it is falling behind quickly. Even with the previous Nov. 1, the extra cannabis products were not expected to hit the market until the spring of 2019 — now it may be even later.

New Jersey is doing its best to meet interim demand. The state has authorized the existing six dispensaries to open satellite locations across the state. The state has also started attempting to alter regulations to change the structure of the medical cannabis program to allow for separate licenses for growing, processing and retailing. Currently, growing and retailing are one license.

The state is expected to issue even more licenses in coming months, once the current six up for consideration have been awarded. It’s unclear how the delay in approving the Nov. 1 licenses will affect that plan.

New Jersey is also considering full adult-use legalization, which may be voted on as early as October 29th, according to state Senate President Stephen Sweeney.

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