New Jersey seeks applicants for new medical marijuana firms

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New Jersey is seeking applicants to operate up to 108 new medical marijuana businesses.

Gov. Phil Murphy made the announcement Monday. He said that the reason for the expansion is due to the “rapidly increasing patient need in our state.” The number of patients increased from 17,000 to more than 47,000 in just about two years.

RELATED: Bill expanding New Jersey’s medical marijuana program heads to Murphy 
RELATED: State Assembly passes bill expanding medical marijuana program 

This marks the first time the state will issue separate licenses for growers, processors and retailers.

The state will license as many as 38 marijuana businesses in the state's northern region and up to 38 more in the central region of the state and 32 in the southern region. Of those 108 licenses, the state wants as many as 24 growers, 30 processors and 54 retailers.

New Jersey currently has six medical marijuana businesses in operation, and they all grow, process and sell marijuana in-house. Six other providers were selected last year but haven't been licensed yet.

Red Bank resident Brendan Valentine says that having more dispensaries in the state will be beneficial. He says that he currently has to drive up to Woodbridge to the Garden State Dispensary to obtain his medical marijuana.

“It would save money, it would save time. That would be another life-changing thing for me, to have it much closer. The convenience would be great,” he says.

But not everyone is on board with an expanding medical marijuana program. Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Stephen Reid, the chair of New Jersey Responsible Approaches to Marijuana Policy, has fought to keep any type of dispensary out of his town.

"In Point Pleasant Beach we said no to recreation and medical dispensaries,” Reid says. ”It's just not a nice fit. It doesn't fit in our town and I don't know where it's going to fit in 38 different municipalities in central New Jersey.”

The application process will open July 1 and close on Aug. 15.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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