The New Jersey Department of Health is planning on expanding the state’s medical marijuana program. On Monday, it announced it was seeking applicants -- both for-profit and nonprofit -- to operate additional cultivation facilities and dispensaries.

Aspiring growers and retailers have until August 21 to apply. The state expects to grant licenses for five cultivation centers, 15 dispensaries, and 4 so-called “verticals” that would allow the winner to operate a combined cultivation facility, processor, and retail store front. Seven of the licenses are slated for South Jersey. The cost to apply is $20,000. The state will return $18,000 of that to those who are not accepted.

A pre-application webinar will be held August 2. Questions for the regulators can be submitted prior to that date. “We probably won’t be able to answer them all, but we’ll focus on the top-line issues,” said Jeff Brown, assistant commissioner for medicinal marijuana at N.J. Department of Health.

All the principals, directors, board members, owners and employees of aspiring companies must submit to criminal background checks if chosen to participate in the program. The applying entities must show the local community has approved of their operating in the jurisdiction. Applicants must submit a security plan and an environmental impact statement. They must show experience in cultivating, manufacturing or retailing marijuana and provide quality control and assurance plans. There is no minimum financial hurdle, but applicants must show that they are adequately funded to complete their plans.

For more stories about medical marijuana and cannabis, visit