New Jersey's plan to double the number of medical marijuana businesses in the state — from the current six to a total of 12 — has drawn 146 applications from aspiring cannabis growers and retailers.

An independent selection panel will evaluate, score, and award permits on Nov. 1.

The state received 51 applications to operate in South Jersey; 50 applied to operate in the northern region, and 45 applied to operate in the central region, the New Jersey Department of Health announced on Wednesday.

The state's existing alternative treatment centers, as the state's integrated growhouses and dispensaries are called, eventually will be allowed to open additional cultivation and retail outlets.

The Garden State legalized medical marijuana in 2010, but the program stalled shortly after its inception when Chris Christie, who was vehemently anti-cannabis, became governor.

"This is another step forward in removing barriers put in place by the previous administration and creating a more consumer-friendly program,"  Gov. Murphy said of the expansion.

Murphy supports legalizing marijuana for adult recreational use and believes he can muster enough votes in the Legislature to make that happen. It's unclear whether that could occur this year.

Pennsylvania legalized medical marijuana in 2016. Dispensaries made their first sales in February. The state's Department of Health already has granted permits to 25 growers, of which 12 are operational. The Keystone State also has 30 open dispensaries. When Phase 2 of the state's commercial medical marijuana program is fully underway, Pennsylvania will have more than 120 dispensaries.