Unless you have kids, you’re going to have to wait for your medical marijuana.
Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act was officially signed into law on April 17, 2016. This has been exciting news for patients with serious illnesses, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, and proponents of marijuana legalization. However, the excitement has to be tapered with patience. As everyone knows, the government works notoriously slow. Patients will not be able to instantaneously receive medical marijuana, and marijuana businesses will have to wait for regulating agencies to develop procedures. The wait will be frustrating, but it will be worthwhile.
How Long Will It Take to Get Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania?
Government officials, (including Wes Culp, the Deputy Press Secretary of the PA Department of Health), and business analysts believe it could take up to two years for Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana programs to be up and running. The Pennsylvania of Department of Health is responsible for the bulk of medical marijuana regulatory oversight, and they have the duty to set up a Medical Marijuana Advisory Board. A Bureau of Medical Marijuana has been established, and they are now hiring a Director for the new medical marijuana bureau. Once the Bureau is fully staffed, things will move a little faster.
On May 17, 2016, Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana law will officially take effect, but the Pennsylvania Department of Health has until November 17, 2016 to put into place temporary regulations for medical marijuana. Hopefully, within the first year, doctors and other medical professionals will be able to get registered to dispense medical marijuana, and patients and their caregivers will be able to get their medical marijuana certification and identification cards.
It’s likely only a small handful of marijuana businesses (if any) will be up and running by April, 2017. Marijuana businesses that grow, process or dispense marijuana are awaiting regulatory standards to be established, and they have a time-consuming (and expensive) application process to go through. On top of that, multiple government offices will regulate medical marijuana businesses, and many of those agencies need to establish new regulations for medical marijuana. Getting a medical marijuana business up and running won’t be a fast process, but good things come to those that wait—unless you’re ill and need medication.
Kids Get First Dibs on Medical Marijuana Access
Pennsylvania was kind enough to make it faster for parents of children with certain serious conditions to access medical marijuana without having to wait for comprehensive regulatory reform. According to Chapter 21, Section 2106 of the PA Medical Marijuana Act, parents will be able to get their children medical marijuana from another state as of May 17, 2016, but their children must have one of the serious conditions listed under the Medical Marijuana Act, and the marijuana must be in a form allowed by Pennsylvania regulations—that means no plants, and no smoking. Federal laws and conflicting state laws may get in the way, so it’s best to contact an attorney before legally obtaining medical marijuana for a child in Pennsylvania.
By May, 2018, regulatory systems should be in place, certifications, identifications and marijuana business approvals should be finalized, and Pennsylvania medical marijuana dispensaries, growers and processors should be up and running.
Will PA Recreational Marijuana Be Legalized?
Medical marijuana typically has more supporters than recreational marijuana, so it’s no surprise most states tend to legalize some type of medical marijuana before legalizing recreational marijuana. Legalizing medical marijuana is positive step towards legalizing recreational marijuana. The PA Medical Marijuana Act established research programs and advisory boards, allowing the expansion of marijuana opportunities with evidentiary reviews, expert opinion and public opinion. As marijuana myths are buried, work to remove marijuana off the list of federal Schedule 1 drugs is continued, and the medical and economic benefits are seen, Pennsylvania will be drawn in closer to legalizing recreational marijuana.
It’s a long road to getting recreational marijuana legalized in Pennsylvania, but it’s certainly not a dead end. The Medical Marijuana Act has just revved up the engine, and the policy writers and people of Pennsylvania are drawing the map. But for now, patients with serious illnesses can be thrilled to finally use medical marijuana legally in Pennsylvania, and entrepreneurs and venture capitalists better get to work.