In 2018, the first full year of operations for the retail medical marijuana program in Pennsylvania, patients spent more than $130 million on the herbal medication.
“The first year that the state’s medical marijuana program has been operational tells us that this program is working to help Pennsylvanians in need of this medication,” Governor Wolf said. “Patients are realizing the benefits and there has been steady, positive progress that I am pleased to report.”
Gov. Wolf signed the bill legalizing medical marijuana into law on April 17, 2016, and now the first full year has been proclaimed a great success with more than 116,000 patients being registered. Of the card-holding patients, more than 83,000 purchased products from a dispensary, and more than 600,000 transactions were collectively reported by the licensed dispensaries. Medical marijuana sales reported for the year totaled more than $132 million, and the state also collected more than $2 million in taxes from licensed growers and processors.
Pennsylvania state lawmakers like Sen. Jay Costa shared in the excitement of a successful first year. “In its first year of operation, Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program helped 83,000 folks access medication, dispensed from nearly 600,000 times at approved dispensaries across the state,” Sen. Costa wrote on Twitter. “Wow! Clearly, this was a serious need in the Commonwealth.”
Inspired by the successful first full year, officials plan to expand the program by licensing more physicians, producers and retail dispensaries. “Our goal for the next year and beyond is to increase the number of grower/processors and dispensaries operating, to register even more physicians and to continue the growth of our scientific, medically based program,” Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said in a statement.
To apply for a medical marijuana card in Pennsylvania, patients suffering from one of the qualifying conditions must first receive a recommendation from a state-licensed physician. Conditions that qualify for the medical marijuana program in Pennsylvania include:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Cancer, including remission therapy
- Crohn’s disease
- Damage to the nervous tissue of the central nervous system (brain-spinal cord)
- Dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders
- HIV / AIDS
- Huntington’s disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Intractable seizures
- Multiple sclerosis
- Neurodegenerative diseases
- Opioid use disorder
- Parkinson’s disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Severe chronic or intractable pain of neuropathic origin or severe chronic or intractable pain
- Sickle cell anemia
- Terminal illness
Currently, there are only 45 retail locations certified to sell medical marijuana in Pennsylvania, but the state plans to issue 23 additional permits in the coming months. Nearly 500 more physicians are also expected to become certified to recommend medical cannabis.