N.J. Seeks to Double Number of Medical-Marijuana Dispensaries

(Bloomberg) -- Governor Phil Murphy’s administration is seeking to double the number of medical-marijuana dispensaries in New Jersey after expanding a list of conditions eligible for treatment.

The most densely populated U.S. state will have as many as 12 regulated outlets, according to a statement Monday from Murphy’s office. The new dispensaries will include two in each of the northern, central and southern regions.

“We look forward to the opening of six new dispensaries so we can ensure that all qualifying patients who want access to medicinal marijuana can have it,” Murphy said.

Murphy, a Democrat, campaigned on broadening marijuana access. Though he had intended to legalize recreational use by the start of the July 1 fiscal year, lawmakers continue to work on a bill to send to his desk.

Of 25,000 patients registered to use marijuana legally in New Jersey, 10,000 have enrolled since January, when Murphy’s term began. More than half of new participants have the conditions that New Jersey started to include in March: anxiety, migraines, Tourette’s syndrome, and pain related to arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, pancreatitis and bowel disease.

Though New Jersey legalized medical marijuana in 2010 in the waning days of Democratic Governor Jon Corzine’s administration, the program languished under his Republican successor, Chris Christie, a former federal prosecutor who said he feared legal repercussions and potential for abuse. Some families, with children who were denied treatment because their conditions didn’t qualify or New Jersey didn’t allow certain forms of the drug, moved to other states, where they found more inclusive rules.

The new sites in New Jersey would have to operate an outlet plus space to cultivate and manufacture weed, which is banned by federal law even as at least 30 states allow it for medical treatment and nine for recreational use. New Jersey health officials on Nov. 1 will disclose which applicants may apply for permits, Murphy said.

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