Pennsylvania has become the 24th state (including Washington, DC) to legalize medical marijuana. Governor Tom Wolf signed the bill into law on April 17th, but as is usually the case with new medical marijuana legislation, patients in Pennsylvania won’t actually be able to purchase marijuana at retail locations for another two years or so. However, we do know from the legislation that Pennsylvania will ultimately approve 25 growers and processors for licenses and as many as 50 dispensaries for licenses. The licensed dispensaries could each operate three locations.
This bill passed primarily due to the efforts of parents and family members whose children and relatives suffer from seizures that leave them in wheelchairs or unable to function normally. They lobbied door-to-door for several years, showing that the efforts of the people truly can impact medical marijuana laws—something we’ve seen happen in other states as well. The Pennsylvania House voted 149-46 to approve the medical marijuana law (a year and a half after the state Senate approved it in 2014).
Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Licensing Facts
Based on the legislation, here is what we know about medical marijuana licensing in Pennsylvania. Keep in mind, history shows that things can change a lot between the time the bill is passed and the time patients can actually walk into a retail location to purchase medical marijuana.
- 25 grower and processor licenses will be granted.
- 50 dispensary licenses will be granted.
- Each licensed dispensary can operate up to three locations.
- A safe harbor provision allows parents to purchase medical marijuana from another state for their children until they can purchase it in Pennsylvania.
- Patients cannot legally grow their own marijuana.
- Growers, processors, and dispensaries will be required to use an electronic inventory tracking system (connected to the Department of Health database) to track all medical marijuana from seed-to-sale every day.
- Growers and processors will have to pay a 5% tax on the gross receipts they get from any sales of marijuana to any other grower, processor, or dispensary.
- Sales from growers and processors to other growers, processors, or dispensaries are exempt from state sales tax.
- Growers, processors, and dispensaries will be required to adhere to all federal regulations regarding the advertising and marketing of prescription drugs.
- Owners and employees of growers, processors, and dispensaries must submit fingerprints for federal background checks.
- Medical marijuana will be available in the following forms: pill, oil, tincture or liquid, topical (e.g., gel, cream, ointment), or a form that can be used for vaporization or nebulization. Medical marijuana will not be available in a form that can be smoked.
- Patients must receive a certification after being diagnosed with one of 17 approved conditions.
- Physicians must be registered with the state to provide medical marijuana certifications to patients.
The Impact of Medical Marijuana Licenses in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania appears to be on track to enter the medical marijuana economy aggressively. Yes, the path to get there is long (an estimated 24 months), but the people have spoken and the government listened.
Pennsylvania is a large state and the demand from consumers within the state could be very big. Given the fact that a safe harbor provision has already been created for parents of children who could benefit from medical marijuana, the state is already impacting the medical marijuana economy. We’ll have to wait and see what happens next.
This is a definitely a licensing story to watch and Cannabiz Media will be tracking it in the Cannabiz Database. Subscribe to the daily alerts so you don’t miss what’s happening in the marijuana licensing economy.
Susan Gunelius, Lead Analyst for Cannabiz Media and author of Marijuana Licensing Reference Guide: 2017 Edition, is also President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company offering, copywriting, content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, and strategic branding services. She spent the first half of her 25-year career directing marketing programs for AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more as well as small businesses around the world. Susan has written 11 marketing-related books, including the highly popular Content Marketing for Dummies, 30-Minute Social Media Marketing, Kick-ass Copywriting in 10 Easy Steps, The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing, and she is a popular marketing and branding keynote speaker. She is also a Certified Career Coach and Founder and Editor in Chief of Women on Business, an award-winning blog for business women. Susan holds a B.S. in marketing and an M.B.A in management and strategy.