Fifty to 90 medical marijuana dispensaries are going to be needed in New Jersey in the next three years to keep up with the Medicinal Marijuana Program’s rapidly expanding patient population, a report issued today by the New Jersey Department of Health concluded.
The Medicinal Marijuana Program’s Biennial Report reveals adding more access points for patients to get therapy would reduce current prices and drive times, and geographically diversify the market.
“The Medicinal Marijuana Program has always prioritized patient needs above all else. Whether they are individuals with debilitating chronic pain, folks with end-stage cancer, or veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, patients simply cannot wait any longer for therapy that is both more affordable and easier to access,” Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal said in a statement. “The need for this program is greater than ever.”
The report indicates the need to expand cultivation capacity. The department selected six more businesses in December 2018 to apply for permits to grow, manufacture and dispense medical marijuana.
Last year, according to the department, the Murphy administration added five new medical conditions – anxiety, migraines, two forms of chronic pain and Tourette’s Syndrome – and in January added opioid use disorder, coupled with medication-assisted treatment. This has led to a total of 43,710 patients participating in the program — 26,687 of whom joined since the Murphy Administration began.
New Jersey’s six Alternative Treatment Centers nearly doubled their revenues from 2017 to 2018, earning $29 million and $53 million respectively.
The department’s analyses of prices showed no evidence that dispensaries were charging excessive prices but did find evidence that high prices were artificially suppressing patient demand. They also looked at average prices of medical marijuana per ounce sold during 2017 and 2018, and compared to prices on the illegal market.
Both analyses showed comparable prices in New Jersey’s regulated market if patients were eligible for discounts but showed higher prices if patients were not eligible for discounts. However, for premium whole flower, prices at five out of six dispensaries were $100 more per ounce than the illegal market price.
“Keeping prices below the illegal market is the best way to ensure patients purchase lab-tested products at regulated dispensaries and responsibly use the therapy under the supervision of a health care provider,” said Jeff Brown, assistant commissioner of the Division of Medicinal Marijuana. “The need to expand the industry is clear, and we are committed to making it happen.”
The top five medical conditions among patients who have qualified for the program are: Chronic pain due to musculoskeletal disorders (25.4 percent), anxiety (20.2 percent), intractable skeletal spasticity (19.9 percent), PTSD (8.8 percent), and severe or chronic pain due to cancer or HIV (6.85 percent).
For more information, visit the Department’s Medicinal Marijuana webpage.