Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program to be up and running by mid-2018

    Different strains of pot are displayed for sale at Medicine Man marijuana dispensary in Denver

    Different strains of pot are displayed for sale at Medicine Man marijuana dispensary in Denver

    Pennsylvania’s Department of Health Health plans to start accepting applications for growers and dispensers in the state’s  newly formed medical marijuana program on Feb. 20.

    The agency says it expects to begin making the drug available in mid-2018.

    In the first phase of the program’s rollout, the department will issue up to 12 licenses to growers and up to 27 permits for dispensaries. Each individual dispenser will be allowed up to three locations, which could bring the total to 81 dispensaries across the state.

    Health Secretary Karen Murphy said the program is relying heavily on feedback from doctors, who have been meeting regularly as part of a “physicians’ work group.”

    “They suggested that we develop specific training and dosing requirements for physicians and dispensaries, that we develop a robust, quality monitoring program, and that we have different approaches for physicians in rural and urban areas,” she said.

    About 900 applications are expected from growers and dispensers.

    In addition, program director John Collins said thousands of Pennsylvanians have been asked why they feel they’ll need the drug.

    “The two that made it to the top of the list were pain and PTSD,” he said.

    Murphy noted that the department has also approved 134 applications for Pennsylvania’s safe harbor program.

    Developed after medical marijuana was legalized in April, it gives children with certain conditions legal access to the drug before the law is fully enacted.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Help us get to 100% of our membership goal to support the reporters covering our region, the producers bringing you great local programs and the educators who teach all our children.