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.
Should Pennsylvania fully legalize marijuana? A state lawmaker launched an online petition Tuesday asking his colleagues to do just that.
In an effort to drum up public support for a legalization bill he plans to introduce, Pennsylvania Rep. Jake Wheatley (D) called on residents to co-sign his petition in support of cannabis reform in the Keystone State.
“In the near future, I will introduce H.B. 2600 to legalize the sale of marijuana for adult recreational use in Pennsylvania, and I’m asking for your support,” Wheatley wrote. “Legalizing marijuana—which is already permitted for medical use here in the commonwealth—would yield tremendous benefits for our state.”
The politician went on to list nine reasons to back legalization, including increased tax revenue, depriving drug trafficking organizations of profits and stimulating growth in the agricultural industry.
“My bill would also expunge criminal records for marijuana-related convictions that would have been considered lawful under the act. It’s time to end the 21st-century version of prohibition, stop squandering billions of dollars in revenue and balance our budget!”
Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program, which counts about 30,000 registered patients (with another 22,000 awaiting approval as of July 31), has been in effect for two years. But Gov. Tom Wolf (D), a vocal supporter of the system, recently cautioned against moving too fastto implement a recreational program.
“My sense is, right now, Pennsylvania’s not ready for it,” Wolf said earlier this month. “We’re working really hard to make sure that the medical marijuana program is done the right way.”
But public opinion, as revealed by polling, seems to disagree with the governor. A 2017 survey from Franklin & Marshall College found 59 percent of Pennsylvanians support legalizing adult-use cannabis, while just 31 percent oppose it.
Via Franklin & Marshall College.
That sentiment is bolstered by a report from the state’s auditor general, Eugene DePasquale, which found that Pennsylvania could see more than a half-billion dollars in additional tax revenue if the state approves recreational marijuana.
In any case, Wheatley is pushing ahead with his plan to introduce marijuana legalization in the legislature.
“There are tremendous benefits to legalizing marijuana and few downsides,” Wheatley told Fox 43. “It’s estimated that legalization would generate more than $580 million in annual tax revenue for Pennsylvania. That’s money to balance our budget, strengthen our economy, bolster our workforce and improve our schools.”
“What’s more, legalization would save taxpayers millions in enforcement costs while freeing up crime-fighting resources to combat serious, violent crime,” he said. “Prohibiting recreational use of marijuana does nothing to meaningfully reduce access to this relatively safe drug.”
UPDATE 8/21/18 2:54 p.m.: This story has been updated to clarify the number of currently registered medical marijuana patients in Pennsylvania).
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
Pennsylvania Lawmaker Launches Online Petition To Promote Marijuana Legalization Bill
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