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i The competition is already fierce to win one of the six new medicinal marijuana licenses New Jersey will be issuing later this year. More than 800 people — a mix of lawyers, consultants, and entrepreneurs from as far as Colorado and as close as Pennsylvania — attended a State Health Department meeting in Trenton to learn the ground rules for the application process. The meeting was mandatory for anyone who intends to apply for a medical marijuana license. Jeff Brown, the assistant commissioner of the medicinal marijuana program at the Health Department, said the state does plan to issue more requests for marijuana businesses in the future. But there’s a strong desire among possible purveyors to snag one of the six soon-to-be-available licenses, because many applicants see them as a back door into the legal recreational market — should that become legal in New Jersey. Medical marijuana has been legal in the state since the passage of the Compassionate Care Act in 2010, but adult recreational use is not. The State Legislature is expected to begin considering several bills to legalize marijuana for recreational use this month. The state currently has six dispensaries to serve more than 28,000 people who are enrolled in the program for illnesses like post-traumatic stress disorder, terminal cancer and multiple sclerosis. The new licenses will double the number, and allow for easier access to the drug for patients — a goal of Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration. There was much excitement in Trenton among applicants who spilled out of the Trenton War Memorial, where the meeting was held. A medical marijuana permit is so coveted, one applicant at Thursday’s meeting referred to it as a "golden ticket." And, there was a range of experience levels — from newcomers to the industry, to those, like […]

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