Pennsylvania Approves Medical Marijuana — Who Has Access To Pot And In What Forms?

Pennsylvania has approved medical marijuana. The organic alternative to painkillers has been made available for certain medical conditions, and will have further restrictions about the forms in which it will be dispensed.

Medical marijuana has been legally made available in the state of Pennsylvania. It has now joined the increasing number of states to legalize medical pot. Pennsylvania is the 24th state to legalize marijuana for medical use. The bill, codenamed PA SB3, passed both houses of government in rapid succession and was presented to Governor Tom Wolf, who had already indicated he would clear it as soon it landed on his desk.

The bill was cleared by lawmakers in the Senate as well as the House. While legislators in the senate approved the bill by margins 42-7 on Tuesday, it was cleared by the House on Wednesday by a margin 149-46. The bill was all set to become a law because the state’s Governor Tom Wolf had confirmed he would instantly sign on the 80-page bill once it comes across his desk. The signing ceremony that took place in Harrisburg at 1 p.m. was steamed live.

Interestingly, despite medical marijuana being approved in the state of Pennsylvania, there is currently no infrastructure to support the supply or even growth of pot in The Keystone State. The time required to set up the infrastructure will delay the implementation of the law by about 18 months to two years, reported Patch.

Only after Wolf signed the bill into law on April 17, the Pennsylvania Department of Health began implementing the state’s Medical Marijuana Program. The bill hasn’t changed much since its introduction, but it has outlined the regulations pertaining to the growing, processing, and dispensing system associated with medical marijuana. The complete implementation of the regulations will take about a year and a half, shared Steve Hoenstine, spokesman for key sponsor Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery).

Fortunately, those who qualify for the medical marijuana program can get their pot, but the rule applies only to minors, reads a specific clause.

“It’s not a violation of the act if a parent or guardian of a minor under 18 years of age lawfully obtains medical marijuana from another state, territory of the United States or any other country to be administered to the minor.”

Hoenstine, however, quickly pointed out the provision doesn’t allow citizens to transport marijuana across state lines. He added that the provision hasn’t been tested and more specifically, “transporting marijuana across state lines is still a federal offense.”

“Until this protocol is fully up and running, there’s no guarantee that you’re protected to possess marijuana of any kind in Pennsylvania.”

Who qualifies for the medical marijuana program in Pennsylvania? On the list of 17 qualifying diagnosed conditions are cancer, epilepsy, autism, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, sickle cell anemia, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, and glaucoma, reported Senegal ACTU.

As an added restriction, marijuana won’t be available in all formats. Marijuana, also known as weed, is commonly available in a smokable variety. From a medical perspective, it is processed and transformed into a variety of formats. In Pennsylvania, medical marijuana will be available only as a pill, oil, tincture or liquid; in a topical form, such as a gel, cream, or ointment; or in a form medically appropriate for vaporization or nebulization, reported LancasterOnline.

Incidentally, Pennsylvania has still to appoint or license growers and processors of medical marijuana. The state aims to accord the right to grow medical pot to about 25 growers, depending on the number of qualifying patients and in extension, the total requirement. Those interested to grow marijuana, will have to pay a nonrefundable initial application fee of $10,000 and must show that they have at least $2 million in capital, with at least $500,000 on deposit with a financial institution. After securing the license to grow medical marijuana, growers will have to pay a one-year permit fee of $200,000, with a renewal fee of $10,000.

As for dispensing the organic painkiller, Pennsylvania will issue licenses to about 50 dispensaries, which can each open up to three distribution centers. Dispensing agencies will have to pay a nonrefundable initial application fee of $5,000, and must show at least $150,000 on deposit with a financial institution. The one-year permit fee is set at $30,000, and renewal is set at $5,000.

[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]

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