More than 450 people with post-traumatic stress disorder have enrolled in New Jersey's medical marijuana program since that mental health condition was added as a qualifying illness in September.

Ken Wolski, the executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey, said a panel of medical experts is now considering patients' requests to include other medical conditions including chronic pain.

"We think that about 3 million people who potentially suffer from chronic pain at some point in their lives in New jersey, about a third of the population, really need a safer alternative to opiates to manage this pain, and marijuana is that safer alternative," he said Thursday.

No date has been set yet for the review commission to hold a public hearing and make recommendations to the Health Commissioner, according to a state Health Department spokeswoman.

Wolski said he hopes the final decision on expanding the list of qualifying conditions for the medical marijuana programs is based on science, not politics. Gov. Chris Christie, who signed the law in September allowing those with PTSD to take part in the program, has opposed various other attempts at expanding the program.

Wolski said he hopes that whoever is elected governor in November be more lenient and approve legalizing marijuana so it's easier for patients to obtain it.

"So they don't have to go through the hoops of getting a physician recommendation," he said. "You treat it more like an over-the-counter drug that is available for any adult to go into a store and buy and to use not only as a treatment for medical conditions as a preventive measure to prevent the more serious medical conditions."