New Jersey could double the number of medical marijuana users under Gov. Phil Murphy’s liberalization of the program, the state health commissioner said Tuesday, adding that the number of users would expand even if the state lifts its ban on non-medical use.
Dr. Shereef Elnahal, whom Murphy named the state’s top doctor in January, said the governor’s changes to rules governing medical marijuana would allow the program to grow to 40,000 to 50,000 people, up from the current 20,000.
In March, Murphy announced that the state was adding five new categories of medical conditions for which patients could be prescribed marijuana, while reducing patient and caregiver fees and lifting limits on the amount of drug that patients could possess.
“We do anticipate an expansion in the number of individuals who will receive the program, the therapy,” Elnahal told the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. “We anticipate at least 50,000 people.”
Legal weed is not a barrier to medical
While moving to expand New Jersey’s medical marijuana program — which grew slowly since its 2010 inception because of strict rules advocated by then-Gov. Chris Christie — Murphy also has sought to make marijuana legal for anyone 21 and older. The governor has pointed to disparities in marijuana arrests between white and non-white New Jerseyans. [Read more at NorthJersey.com]