NJ Department of Health Selects Cannabis Dispensary Hopefuls

Cannabis dispensaries in New Jersey
Image: SeaweedJeezus

The New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) yesterday announced six companies that can apply for permits to open new medical marijuana dispensaries.

There are just six dispensaries currently operating in New Jersey and demand is outstripping supply, particularly since the broadening of the state’s medical cannabis program under Governor Phil Murphy’s sweeping reforms early this year.

At the last published count (October), the number of registered patients had swelled from approximately 17,000 to 34,000 since Governor Murphy took office in January.

In July this year, DOH kicked of a Request for Applications for up to six new applicants to operate dispensaries. Competition was fierce, with 146 applications received. It was a huge task for the  six-person committee charged with review.

“Six very strong applicants were selected, including minority-owned and women-owned businesses,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal. “We will meet with them early next year to refine their timetable for growing product and opening their doors.”

Dr. Elnahal says the Department is committed to an equitable expansion of supply to meet the state’s growing patient demand, and the new locations will be of benefit to patients that currently have to travel significant distances to obtain medicines.

The naming of the six doesn’t mean theirs is a done deal. They must now pass background checks and clear various other hurdles before setting up shop; which also means supply issues won’t be resolved any time soon.

Two applicants were chosen each for the north (NETA NJ, LLC and GTI New Jersey, LLC), central (Verano NJ LLC and Justice Grown) and southern (MPX New Jersey and Columbia Care New Jersey) regions of the state.

In other recent related news out of the state, a bill is in the works that could make significant adjustments to the state’s program. Among the changes would be an increase in monthly prescription allowance to 4 ounces (up from 2 ounces) and a reducing of sales tax to zero over 4 years. It would also enable Advance Practice Nurses and physician assistants to prescribe cannabis and allow for delivery services to operate.

The bill, known as “Jake’s Law” cleared three state legislative committees in late November.