New Jersey approves 30 more medical cannabis dispensaries

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New Jersey continues to make big moves to strengthen the state’s medical cannabis market in anticipation of launching recreational sales in 2022.

State marijuana regulators on Tuesday approved 30 additional MMJ dispensary licenses, only two months after awarding 10 cultivation permits and four vertically integrated licenses.

The new dispensary licenses will more than double the number of MMJ outlets, which currently stand at 23, according to the state’s website.

“The intent in 2019 had been to award 15 dispensaries but based on our assessment of patients’ access to medicine in the New Jersey market – considering price and location – we believe that would be inadequate,” Jeff Brown, executive director of the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission, said in a news release.

“The number of registered patients go up every month and we are charged by the statute to meet that need.”

New Jersey has 121,111 registered patients, according to the state’s website. The program had 44,000 patients in early 2019.

The expansion comes after a two-year delay caused by legal challenges and after warnings by industry experts that medical marijuana supplies were insufficient as New Jersey expands into an adult-use market.

Regulators awarded 10 provisional dispensary licenses each in the central, northern and southern regions of the state.

It was unclear how many are minority-, female- or veteran-owned, but the scoring weighed in favor of such applicants as well as those with job-creation plans and collective-bargaining experience.

New Jersey also is on the verge of taking cultivation, processing and testing-lab applications for the projected $2 billion-plus adult-use market.

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Existing MMJ businesses, many of which are multistate operators, argue that they are producing enough supply to start selling recreational marijuana products now, but so far, regulators have resisted.

New Jersey’s adult-use law stipulates that recreational sales begin by mid-February 2022, but it’s unclear whether the state will allow sales that soon.