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NJ medical marijuana program to expand

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey’s health commissioner says the state could open more medical marijuana dispensaries, thanks to a proposal that would double the program’s budget.

Commissioner Mary O’Dowd told the state Senate Budget Committee the extra money will be used to build and maintain treatment centers. It also will cover costs for inspections, testing protocols and monitoring the stores.

Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed budget doubles funding for the program to $1.6 million.

O’Dowd faced questions from the panel Wednesday about why the program is moving so slowly. She said the challenge to pushing the program forward largely has to do with federal scrutiny.

The state has one fully operating dispensary in Montclair. Four are in various stages of building and planning.

O’Dowd says 900 patients are registered to receive medical marijuana treatment.