The Garden State has its hands full.
The Department of Health recently announced that it will not meet its deadline to award the state’s second wave of dispensary licenses by November 1, 2018.
New Jersey’s medical marijuana program has been growing rapidly; it currently has more than 33,000 patients enrolled**.** Although the state is committed to facilitating the expanding program, it is quickly falling behind.
While the Department of Health (DOH) had expected to select the six winning applicants by Nov. 1, it announced on October12 that it would not make that deadline, reported NJ.com. The state did not say when it expects to announce the winners.
Last July, with demand for MMJ surging, New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy called for a doubling of the state's program, from six to as many as 12 dispensaries.
Shortly after that, the DOH received 146 applications for the six additional licenses. The overwhelming number of applicants has apparently staggered the various state institutions involved in the process.
Under the current crush of paperwork, the DOH is delaying the selection process, which could push back the opening of the additional dispensaries.
“Additional time is needed to complete a full review of these applications. Each of the reviewers must read more than 40,000 pages of material (each application averages 300 pages). The reviewers are working as quickly as possible, and the department will announce the successful applicants as soon as the review is complete,” said the New Jersey Health Department in a statement.
The longer the state takes to pick the new medical marijuana providers, the longer it will take to get the additional cannabis on the market, but New Jersey is doing its best to meet interim demand.
"It is all hands on deck to get this done, and that won't change once the awards are made," said Jeff Brown, assistant commissioner of New Jersey’s medical marijuana program. "We are still on track to expand access consistent with the growth of the patient population."