While the bureaucratic processes which surrounds medical cannabis legalization typically take a long time, patients in Pennsylvania now have a reason to celebrate. In an article originally written by Matt Guerry and Caralyn Reese of the Centre Daily Times, the Pennsylvania state legislature announced it would soon be awarding permits to approved cannabis growers and retailers.
One year ago, Pennsylvania’s landmark medical marijuana bill was signed into law. Now, potential growers and buyers have found themselves just months away from officially going into business. This news has created a buzz around the medical cannabis industry as patients prepare to start trading in their prescription drugs for something much more natural.
The state split the implementation of their medical program into several phases. During phase one, 27 dispensaries and 12 growers will receive permits. While this number may seem small, these businesses will soon be able to serve patients in Pennsylvania who have been in desperate need of cannabis-based medicine for some time. In addition, these businesses will serve as pilots navigating the future of the state’s medical cannabis program going forward.
While the specific date has yet to be released, the state legislature plans to have medical cannabis access ready for patients at the beginning of next year.
The current programs support patients using medical cannabis products for 17 serious conditions. This list of conditions includes prominent medical concerns, such as cancer, epilepsy, and HIV. Approved patients will be able to buy infused products, such as pills, oils, and ointments. While raw cannabis flower is not approved for retail sale, many patients are ecstatic to see their state’s cannabis program finally coming to fruition.
While many growers and dispensaries have shown interested in being a part of the state’s program, the process is certainly not easy. In order for growers to apply, they must first pay a $10,000 application fee paired with a $200,000 permit fee. On the other hand, dispensaries must pay a $5,000 application fee paired with a $30,000 permit fee. While some would think these rates would discourage potential businesses from participating in the cannabis program, the state has vowed to return permit fees to applicants who are not awarded permits.
After paying the fees and submitting the proper paperwork, applications are carefully vetted by the state government according to a wide range of criteria. This criteria includes pass-fail basis, criminal history, sufficient operating capital, and tax clearance. While many people have criticized the extent of the state’s approval program, prominent lawmakers have stated their unwavering desire to only make sure that qualified businesses will be treating patients going forward.
Lawmakers expect to announce the permit winners of Phase 1 at the end of June, ensuring that these businesses will be ready for operation by the start of 2018. Clearly, Pennsylvania is committed to providing its citizens with the medical cannabis they need in a timely manner.