It was only proper for the state which hosted both the signatures of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution to live up to its fondness for virtue, liberty, and independence when it comes to the medicine that people put in their bodies. What seemed like a tug of war battle between advocates of medicinal marijuana in Pennsylvania and its adversaries, has finally been resolved.
Governor Tom Wolf officially signed Senate Bill 3
yesterday, on April 17, 2016, allowing Pennsylvania to regulate its own medicinal marijuana system, counting it as the 24th state in the country to do so. Making up for criminalizing the same plant which numerous founding fathers had regarded not only as medicine but a means to supporting a healthy economy, Wolf's signature will allow medicinal marijuana dispensaries to put their weeds down in the same state where the country first put its roots down, on paper.
When Will Senate Bill 3 Take Effect?
First approved by the House last month on March 14-16, 2016, Senate Bill 3 is expected to take effect 30 days from Wolf's sign off yesterday
, with sunset provisions prioritizing terminally ill children and their parents as having access to the drug first. After the 30 day window has passed, Pennsylvania's regulatory authority, the Department of Health, will have 6 months to devise and implement their first draft of regulations including rules, processing applications, and how patients will receive their first medical marijuana card. Department recommendations are expected to be made by a 15 member board no later than two years after the law takes effect in May 2018. As it stands, only
terminally ill patients and those suffering from certain qualified medical conditions will have access to medicine.
Medicinal Marijuana Dispensary and Grower Allowances
Wrought with their own set of regulations and guidelines to follow, 25 grower and permit processing permits were issued by Pennsylvania. Using a similar seed-to-sale tracking system as states such as Colorado, marijuana growers are required to maintain the same standards as growers in other legalized states, such as keeping up to date records of current patients/new patients and monitoring facilities with proper surveillance equipment.
No more than 50 medicinal marijuana dispensary permits are expected to be issued by Pennsylvania's regulatory body. For now, each dispensary will be allowed 3 locations, making for a combined total of 150 dispensary locations throughout Pennsylvania, once regulations have been established. For a comprehensive outline of Pennsylvania's Medical Marijuana Act including information on dispensary fees, taxes, and other legalities, consult the Marijuana Policy Project
Vaping Okay, Smoking and Edibles Prohibited
Not to kill your buzz, but if you're a medical marijuana patient actually living in Pennsylvania, grandiose fantasies of inhaling lit water pipes filled with Kush in order to treat your chronic glaucoma, should start to taper off right about now. Similar to New York state's medical marijuana law, smoking cannabis is not tolerated under Pennsylvania's current regulatory system
, nor is having access to whole plant forms of cannabis at this time. Besides vaping, patients will only be allowed to ingest cannabis based medicine directly via pills, liquid, tinctures, gels, ointments, and creams.
In case you're scratching your head right now trying to figure out why dry herb marijuana isn't allowed on a medical marijuana bill, you're not alone. The fact that marijuana in its leaf form can be used with a dry herb vaporizer or vaporizer pen, should dispel any lingering negative associations with combustion and health concerns, given that it also has medicinal properties in and of itself. On top of not being able to smoke cannabis, patients won't have access to infused edibles at their local dispensary, which could also prove problematic in the future, accounting for the fact that vaporization and edibles
have been most popular forms of consumption by patients in legalized states thus far. Although not on the table for discussion now, the actual consumption of dry leaf cannabis at least, will be revisited by the Department of Health's assigned board members as a possible revision in the near future, hopefully ending with sensible resolve.