TRENTON — Hundreds of applicants are seeking to secure one of six opportunities to get a piece of New Jersey’s medical marijuana industry.
About 800 representatives and interested parties turned out Thursday for the state Department of Health’s required application conference, where they learned what it would take to get a license for an alternative treatment center, officials said.
“I’m certainly humbled by the fact that there’s such a huge outpouring of interest and support,” said Jeff Brown, assistant commissioner of the Health Department’s medical marijuana program.
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One of those centers could end up in Pleasantville. Representatives from Superior Grow Lab won support from City Council on Monday to cultivate, process and dispense medical marijuana at The Press of Atlantic City’s former site at 11 Devins Lane.
James DiNatale, owner of RGC3 LLC, purchaser of the old Press building, and George Miller, an Atlantic City-based attorney and president and co-founder of Superior Grow, said Thursday’s conference was informative and they were optimistic about getting one of the licenses.
Gov. Phil Murphy announced July 16 the state is requesting applications for six new dispensaries to add to the existing six operational dispensaries, including Compassionate Care Foundation in Egg Harbor Township. The Health Department received 530 questions about the process in the following weeks.
About 25,000 patients and 1,000 caregivers participate in the medical marijuana program, health officials said July 2. Murphy said 10,000 new patients had signed on since January, many of whom became eligible after the state expanded the program’s list of qualified conditions earlier this year.
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Thursday’s conference, which was live-streamed, was mandatory for anyone interested in applying for a new license and gave more insight into what state officials are looking for in applicants, who must apply by 5 p.m. Aug. 31.
Successful applicants will be notified of their selection by Nov. 1, Brown said.
The Department of Health plans to approve and license two new alternative treatment centers each in northern, central and southern New Jersey. Applicants cannot be existing centers, can be for-profit or nonprofit, and must agree to cultivate, manufacture and produce their own medical marijuana products.
Anyone in or outside New Jersey can apply, but selection committee members will look at applicants’ ties and participation in the communities they propose to operate in, Brown said.
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Kaitlyn Woolford, executive assistant to the Office of the Deputy Commissioner for Public Health Services, said applications will be subject to public disclosure under state and common public records laws, but certain information may be protected, such as finances and trade secrets.
Brown said the department expects many applicants and will judge them based on their proof of local municipal support, site control, ability to provide affordable quantity and quality of medical marijuana to patients, security, financial stability and researched data related to their operational plans.
“This is the first of many requests for applicants,” Brown said. “There will be additional calls in the future once (proposed medical marijuana) rules are adopted and reflected by the public.”