Today marks an historic day in the Keystone State. Less than two years after the governor signed Act 16 into law, six dispensaries have begun selling medical marijuana to patients and caregivers. Pennsylvania is expected to be one of the largest medical marijuana markets in the country, and those involved in implementation should be applauded for reaching this point ahead of schedule.
To date, 10 dispensaries and 10 grower/processors have been approved to operate. Over the next few months, we expect up to 81 dispensary locations to open across the state. More than 17,000 patients have registered to participate in the medical marijuana program, with nearly 4,000 certified by a physician. As of this week, 708 physicians have registered with the department and 376 have competed the training to become certified practitioners.
However, the implementation process is not yet complete. The Medical Marijuana Advisory Board is still working on its recommendations for changes to the program. This week, they met to discuss one of the most important issues — allowing patient access to medical cannabis flower. This is a vital expansion of the program that will improve patient access and lower costs. Only two states have attempted a medical program without flower, which led to disastrous results for patients. You can learn more about the importance of patient access to flower here.
If you want to learn more about becoming a registered patient, visit the DOH website.
On Wednesday, Acting Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine announced important steps forward for Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program — practitioners can now register online, and the department approved two options for physician training.
Under Act 16, a doctor can only issue a certification for medical marijuana after registering with the Department of Health. The law also requires the physician complete a four-hour training course. The department has approved the first two providers of training courses, The Answer Page Inc. and Extra Step Assurance LLC.
For medical marijuana programs to work, doctors need to participate. If you are a Pennsylvania resident, talk to your doctor, and take a copy of Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Law: A Guide for Doctors and Patients with you for the conversation. Other materials are also available on MPP’s Pennsylvania page and our medical marijuana page.
It is unclear at this time when the department will begin accepting applications and issuing identification cards for patients and caregivers. Earlier in the summer, the department announced the first round of business permits, including 12 grower/processor permits and 27 dispensary permits, which may each have up to three locations. It will take some time for the businesses to open and begin dispensing cannabis, but registered patients may have access as soon as early 2018.