On Monday, July 16, 2018, Gov. Philip D. Murphy’s office announced that it was allowing for six new applicants for medical marijuana Provisioning Center (Dispensary) licenses. Currently, there are twelve dispensaries in New Jersey. The new six dispensaries will be spread out within the state, with two in each of the Northern, Central and Southern regions. This expansion is necessary after the growth that has happened over the last seven months. Officials state that there are 25,000 currently eligible patients, which is 10,000 more than there were in January.

In March, anxiety, migraines, Tourette’s syndrome, chronic pain related to musculoskeletal disorders and chronic visceral pain were added to the list of eligible conditions for medical marijuana. The patient fees have also been lowered from $200 to $100, and $20 for veterans and seniors. Murphy has also changed the guidelines for prescribing doctors, allowing them to not appear on a public registry. This has all played a part in rapid growth of eligible patients and the rising need for more facilities.

New applications are due by Friday, August 31, 2018 and the licensees will be announced on Thursday, November 1, 2018. The application fee is $20,000, of which $18,000 will be returned to denied applicants. Existing dispensaries are forbidden from applying, as they already have the ability to expand in the state. New applicants may be either for profit or non profit and apply in each of the 3 regions. The state does ask that they rank their priority when applying in more than one region. New applicants will be required to do cultivating and processing in addition to operating the Provisioning Center (Dispensary). They must provide site control evidence and verification of proposed location’s municipality’s governing body’s approval of operating a marijuana related business; and submit a business plan including a budget detailing 5-year period’s anticipated revenues and expenses.

Senator Nicholas P. Scutari is still leading the effort in recreational legalization and states that a bill could still pass this summer. Currently he is working on the drafts of two separate bills, one for medical marijuana and one for the legalization of recreational marijuana. His and Mr. Murphey’s plan is to decriminalize marijuana and make sure that the industry is regulated and taxed. Mr. Scutari’s plan would allow existing medical dispensaries the ability to sell recreational marijuana on the first day it is legalized.