2016 was a great year for New Jersey's medical marijuana program, as the number of patients increased by 76% and the total sales volume doubled. The state's program had previously been plagued with problems, including poor participation from doctors, limited access to treatment centers, and high prices for weed.
New Jersey added 4,600 patients to the state MMJ program in 2016, reaching a total of almost 11,000 by the end of the year. The state's five licensed dispensaries sold a total of 2,694 pounds of weed last year, a 119% increase from 2015. Part of the boost in sales is due to the fact that two of these dispensaries just opened in late 2015. A sixth dispensary is planning to open, pending an examination from state officials.
The competition from the new dispensaries has lowered legal marijuana prices in the state to around $300 an ounce. Previously, legal Jersey weed was priced at $500 an ounce, one of the highest prices for MMJ in the entire country. Another factor supporting the boost in New Jersey's MMJ program is a new law signed by Governor Chris Christie last September. This law added PTSD to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana, allowing 500 additional patients to join the program by the end of the year.
In July, the state's health department instituted a program allowing the public to petition to have ailments added to the list of qualifying MMJ conditions. Forty-five such conditions meeting the department's guidelines have been proposed, and have been passed on to the Medicinal Medical Review Panel. The panel will hold meetings throughout the year to consider these petitions.