Current law permits medical marijuana to be prescribed only for certain debilitating conditions. But with public support for medical marijuana soaring among Americans, officials have chosen not to enforce the ban as it pertains to medical marijuana.
John Collins, director of the health department's Office of Medical Marijuana, said Thursday that nine dispensaries across the state have begun selling medical marijuana oils, vape pens, pills, tinctures and more. While Mission Pennsylvania and other dispensaries have not yet been deemed operational, Collins said Thursday that all have so far "met their obligations" and are not in danger of losing their permits.
Almost 6,700 Pennsylvanians have received medical marijuana under the state's new program, according the the Pa. Department of Health (DOH).
Gov. Tom Wolf signed the medical marijuana bill into law April 2016.
The Assembly health committee approved the measure, with Democrats supporting it and Republicans opposed.
As of Thursday, 473 doctors were approved to issue certifications.
Technically, the Schedule 1 status outlaws most medical marijuana research as well as medical marijuana itself, including in the 29 states which have legalized it.
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"The government is only hurting its own objectives and revenues by restricting private businesses and ensuring it's not competitive with the black market", she said. Last June, Pennsylvania issued the first dozen grower/processor permits and 27 dispensary permits. Applicants must pay a nonrefundable fee of $10,000, as well as a $200,000 refundable permit fee. The state has approved almost 500 medical practitioners to certify patients.
Because the ACRC will be merely looking over the shoulder of clinical registrants performing the actual research and are not directly involved with the studies, formal DEA approval is not needed.
The state Department of Health also outlined a process for an accredited medical school with an acute care hospital to become an approved "Academic Clinical Research Center". Unsuccessful first-round applicants who appealed their denials can apply in the second round even if their administrative appeal remains open, health department spokeswoman April Hutcheson said. The nonrefundable dispensary application fee is $5,000, with the permit costing $30,000 for one year and a $5,000 renewal fee. That's up from the current limitation of no more than one patient. The state is expected to approve eight registrants, all of whom must have at least $15 million in capital. The state will allow up to eight medical schools, which are each associated with a hospital and typically have a strong focus on research, to conduct research on medical marijuana. "If a doctor believes medical marijuana can be an effective treatment, then they should be able to prescribe it to their patients".
Qualified patients with a doctor's recommendation will receive a Pennsylvania medical marijuana identification card, allowing the purchase of medical marijuana from an authorized state-licensed medical marijuana dispensary.
The bill would also make it easier for minor patients to get edible forms of medical marijuana.
"I'm so proud of how quickly our program has been implemented by the department of health", Briggs said.