While legalization of medical marijuana was signed into law in April, legalization is a process and a long one at that. It’s expected to be a full two years before most patients can fully take advantage of the new legislation. In the meantime, the state has made some great progress on their mission to get marijuana into the hands of those who need it most. With the month of July coming to an end, we thought we’d recap what’s transpired with medical marijuana in the last two months.
What’s Been Going On At The Health Department?
For the past few months the Department of Health has been working to draft up temporary regulations for the State’s medical marijuana program, which were released earlier this month. The current regulations precede the permanent regulations, which are expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Health officials have been researching other programs in other states since last August, gathering information on best practices and lessons learned. The department is currently working on hiring a medical marijuana program director. The interview process is in its final phase and an appointment is expected to be announced next month.
What Are The Current Medical Marijuana Regulations?
Under the temporary regulations released in early July, children with serious medical conditions can receive medical marijuana. Parents, legal guardians, caregivers, and spouses can apply for permission to administer medical marijuana for their underage child using the Safe Harbor Letter application.
Unfortunately, it’s still not possible to buy medical marijuana within Pennsylvania so parents in the state will have to acquire marijuana for their children from other states where the drug is sold. With the current regulations adults cannot legally use medical marijuana. Adults with serious medical conditions will have to wait for the permanent regulations released at the end of the year before they can start using the drug.
When Can I Apply For A Growers License?
The Health Department has received overwhelming levels interest from prospective growers and processors, with over 100 inquiries to date. The department will only allow 25 growers to start. Anyone interested in getting into the budding business will have to pass a federal and state background check to ensure good moral character.
Getting into the medical marijuana industry won’t be cheap. The permit application fee alone costs $10,000 with applicants expected to pay a permit fee of $200,000. Worse, the startup costs don’t end there. Applicants will be required to show proof of two million dollars in capital with $500,000 present and deposited in a financial institution at the time of applying.
Applications are not currently available, but they are expected to be released by the end of the year with notice from the Pennsylvania Bulletin. This should give entrepreneurs time build investor relations and generate the funding they’ll need to apply. Once business gets underway a wealth of new medical marijuana jobs are expected to flood the Pennsylvania job market.
What About Physicians?
Physicians and their medical expertise are crucial to the success of the Pennsylvania medical marijuana program. The Department of Health has formed a workgroup with physicians to give feedback and ongoing communication as the program is implemented. The first Medical Marijuana Physician Workgroup will convene within the following couple of weeks.