New Jersey governor seeks improvements in medical marijuana program

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(This story has been updated from an earlier version.)

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy promised during his campaign that he would legalize recreational marijuana in the state.

But first, the Democrat hopes to revive New Jersey’s medical cannabis program.

Murphy signed an executive order Tuesday to study a program he says has existed “in name only.”

The governor said he’s asking regulators to focus on:

  • Expanding the medical marijuana program.
  • Proposing new regulations.
  • Repealing rules that hamper the market.

The program has 15,000 registered patients while similar-sized state markets have hundreds of thousands of enrollees. Michigan, for example, has 218,000 registered patients.

The state’s medical marijuana program was expected to generate $20 million-$22 million in sales in 2017, according to Marijuana Business Daily estimates.

New Jersey approved an MMJ program in 2010. The first dispensary began sales in 2012, but the state didn’t license its sixth MMJ outlet until July 2017.

During his campaign to replace Republican Gov. Chris Christie, Murphy said he would sign an adult-use cannabis bill as soon as his first 100 days in office. A bill is pending in the Democrat-led legislature.

Murphy was sworn in Jan. 16.

– Associated Press and Marijuana Business Daily