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US (NJ): Patients fear medical program is failing without intervention from state officials

Recreational cannabis continues to boom in the Garden State as new dispensaries open every week two years after the industry's launch.

But on the medical side, patient numbers have steadily dropped since the legalization of recreational cannabis, leaving patients concerned the program is floundering while the state fails to do enough to maintain a robust program for people who depend on cannabis as medicine.

"It's like they're not even faking an effort anymore, like feigning interest in saving the program. It just seems like there's so much more they can do, and I don't understand why they stopped caring about the medical program," said Michael Wiehl, a medical cannabis patient and local advocate. "They just did."

As of April 15, around 80,000 medical patients remain in the state's medical cannabis program, which began in January 2010. Enrollment peaked in May 2022 at more than 129,000 people, before steadily dropping amid the opening of recreational cannabis stores, according to state data. Sales of medical cannabis have also plummeted, with about $226 million in sales in 2022, compared to $124 million in 2023. And recreational sales brought in over $675 million last year — almost five times as much revenue as medicinal, state data shows.

Read more at: www.newjerseymonitor.com

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