Since including post-traumatic stress disorder as a qualifying condition for the use of medical marijuana in New Jersey four months ago, nearly 500 people with PTSD have enrolled in the state's program.

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But, according to Ken Wolski, executive director of the New Jersey Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey, hundreds of thousands of New Jersey residents are still missing out on the therapeutic effects of medicinal weed.

That could change, however, depending on how the New Jersey Department of Health proceeds with dozens of petitions seeking to add several other medical conditions to the list of those that qualify.

The department has had since August, when the petitions were due, to review the submitted forms. Petitioners were asked to include, among other information, medical evidence that marijuana could alleviate suffering caused by the condition, and letters of support from physicians or other licensed health care professionals.

Of the 60-some submitted petitions, 45 were accepted and are set for review by the state.

"Many of these conditions deal with various aspects of chronic pain," Wolski told New Jersey 101.5.

According to Wolski, if chronic pain were added to the qualifying list, the door to medical marijuana would be opened for sufferers of many debilitating conditions, such as fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis and migraines.

"Many patients are suffering and they're very looking forward to access to medical marijuana therapy, and they don't want any more delays in this than are necessary," he said.

According to a health department spokesperson, no meetings have yet been held by the Medical Marijuana Review Panel to discuss the petitions. It's likely more than one review meeting will need to be held, based on the number of petitions, but none have been scheduled. The meetings will be held in Trenton and will be advertised well in advance, the department said.

As of Monday afternoon, New Jersey had 10,962 people registered for the medicinal marijuana program. Of that total, 498 signed up due to PTSD, the first mental condition to be included in the program.

PTSD sufferers only qualify for the program if "conventional medical therapy" has proven ineffective.

More from New Jersey 101.5:

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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