Pennsylvania became the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana today, a feat spearheaded by the parents of children with debilitating disorders and seizures. The bill has been under review for some time and while the laws and regulations will be very strict, it is a positive step for Pennsylvania in the direction towards understanding the benefits of marijuana as a healing plant. While the entire process for initiating the Pennsylvania medical marijuana industry will take up to 2 years to organize, a “safe haven” provision is in the bill, allowing parents of children with qualifying disorders to legally get medication for their children from other states within 1 month. Adults with approved medical conditions will be able to order marijuana legally from other states within 6 months.
Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Qualifying Conditions
The Pennsylvania medical marijuana laws state that patients must have 1 of 17 qualifying conditions to receive an identification card from a doctor registered with the Department of Health. Conditions include: cancer, HIV, AIDS, ALS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathies, Huntington’s disease, Crohn’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, intractable seizures, glaucoma, sickle cell anemia, autism, neuropathic pain, or untreatable severe chronic or intractable pain.
Legal Forms of Medical Marijuana
Medical marijuana will be available for ingestion in the form of a pill, liquid, tincture, or oil. Topically, it will be accessible as a gel, ointment, or cream. Lastly, it will be sold in forms that allow it to be used for vaporization and nebulization. Pennsylvania medical marijuana will not be allowed in any smokable forms. Patients will be able to access medical marijuana from up to 150 dispensaries across the state. Technically, 50 dispensary licenses will be distributed but each business owner will be allowed to operate up to 3 locations.
Division of Tax Proceeds
A 5% tax will be placed on top of the state sales tax on medical marijuana sold by growers and processors to dispensaries or other growers and processors. Economists have estimated that the first year of legalization could rake in somewhere around $10 million in tax income from medical marijuana. This money goes to the Medical Marijuana Program Fund which will be divided with 40% going to the Department of Health for operations and outreach; 15% going to helping patients and caregivers of patients with paying for their background checks, medical marijuana ID cards, etc.; 10% going towards the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs for drug prevention, counseling, and treatment; and 5% going towards funding law enforcement grants.
There will be many restrictions and regulations to follow, plants will be tracked, caregivers given background checks, and doctors will have to be trained among many others rules that will need to be followed. All of this will take some time to develop but patients will have access to treatment much sooner, so there is time. Many can now celebrate the forward progress made in Pennsylvania for the health and care of its residents now and in the future.