Dept. of Health Provides Update on Medical Marijuana Program Implementation in PA

HARRISBURG – At her regular briefing of the status of Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Program, Secretary of Health Dr. Karen Murphy announced applications for medical marijuana grower/processors and dispensaries will be available beginning Jan. 17, 2017. Permit applications will be accepted from Feb. 20, 2017 until March 20, 2017.

“I am excited to announce that we’ve reached an important milestone in the program with the release of permit applications on Jan. 17, 2017, on our Web site at www.health.pa.gov,” Murphy said.

“In the first phase of the program, there will be up to 12 permits issued for grower/processors across Pennsylvania’s six medical marijuana regions, and up to 27 permits issued for dispensaries.

“The decision for which counties will be issued permits in this first phase was determined by using the department’s medical data, as well as comments from more than 5,000 patients and nearly 900 potential grower/processors and dispensary applicants.”

Murphy also discussed recommendations made by the Physician Work Group, which met Nov. 28 in Harrisburg.

“We cannot underestimate the role of physicians in making sure that patients can access medical marijuana,” Murphy said. “That’s why the involvement of physicians and health care professionals through our Physician Workgroup is vital to the successful development and implementation of Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Program.

“At this meeting, we were able to speak with physicians, hospital administrators and addiction specialists about their role in the program.”

Some of Physician Workgroup recommendations include:

  • Clearly identifying the role of physicians serving adults and children for the conditions outlined in the program;
  • Developing specific training for dosing recommendations for physicians at dispensaries and for quality monitoring of the program; and
  • Having different approaches for rural and urban areas in program access, education and medication delivery.

The medical marijuana program was signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf on April 17, 2016. Since that time, the department has:

  • Completed the Safe Harbor temporary guidelines and Safe Harbor Letter application process, as well as approved 134 applications;
  • Slated temporary regulations for laboratories to be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on December 24, 2016;
  • Released public surveys to aid in the development of temporary regulations for growers/processors and dispensaries/laboratories;
  • Published temporary regulations for growers/processors and dispensaries in the Pennsylvania Bulletin;
  • Developed the Medical Marijuana Physician Workgroup; and
  • Released a Request for Quotations for Electronic Tracking IT solutions for the tracking of medical marijuana.

The medical marijuana program became effective on May 17, and is expected to be fully implemented by 2018. The program will offer medical marijuana to patients who are residents of Pennsylvania and under a physician’s care for the treatment of a serious medical condition as defined by Act 16. 

Questions about the medical marijuana program can be emailed to RA-DHMedMarijuana@pa.gov. Information is also available on the Department of Health Web site at www.health.pa.gov.

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