Pennsylvania medical marijuana sales top $500M in first 2 years

Wednesday, November 13, 2019, The Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program has passed a half-billion dollars in sales since it began dispensing the drug nearly two years ago.

John Collins, director of the state’s Office of Medical Marijuana, said at an advisory board meeting Wednesday that about 147,000 people are currently certified to purchase medical marijuana at one of the 72 dispensaries now in operation.

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Pitt researchers develop marijuana breathalyzer

Deb Erdley | Tuesday, August 27, 2019, Pittsburgh Tribune Review

With more and more states legalizing both medical and recreational marijuana, sooner or later some bright scientist had to invent a marijuana breathalyzer.

Now it appears researchers at the University of Pittsburgh may have just walked to the head of the class.

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Pa. adds anxiety to qualifying conditions for medical pot

Associated Press | Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Pennsylvania Health Department is adding anxiety disorders and Tourette’s syndrome to the list of conditions that can qualify people to obtain legal medical marijuana.

The heath secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, announced Thursday she’ll be adding them as of July 20.

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Pa. governor calls for ‘serious’ look at legalizing recreational pot

Wednesday, December 19, 2018, The Associated Press

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s governor says it’s time for the state to consider whether to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf made the comment Wednesday while answering questions from the public on Twitter.

Wolf says “more and more states are successfully implementing marijuana legalization,” and Pennsylvania should learn from their efforts.

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Marijuana industry must be socially responsible when pot becomes legal, CMU expert says

Sam Wood | Wednesday, December 12, 2018, The Philadelphia Inquirer

It’s not a matter of whether the United States will legalize cannabis, it’s simply a matter of when, says Jonathan Caulkins, with an air of inevitability.

The important question the Carnegie Mellon University professor wants us to consider is this: What’s the best way of doing it on a national level that will have the fewest unintended and harmful consequences?

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Pa. throws out all 8 marijuana research applications, so what’s next?

Sam Wood | Thursday, December 6, 2018, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Pennsylvania’s ambitious plan to become the national center for medical marijuana research just can’t get off the ground.

In the latest setback for the program, the state Department of Health on Wednesday rejected the applications of all eight marijuana growers who had planned to partner with the state’s medical schools. Regulators said the applications were riddled with mistakes and missing information.

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Pennsylvania to consider more conditions that should qualify for medical marijuana

Natasha Lindstrom | Tuesday, December 4, 2018, Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Pennsylvania could soon make more conditions eligible for medical marijuana treatment.

The state Medical Marijuana Advisory Board approved a new process for amending and expanding the state’s list of 21 serious conditions for which patients may use cannabis as treatment, Department of Health spokesman Nate Wardle said.

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What Pa. patients are treating with their medical marijuana

Sam Wood | Monday, November 12, 2018, Philadelphia Inquirer

Medical marijuana patients in Pennsylvania are using cannabis to treat chronic pain more than any other affliction, according to an informal survey of dispensaries by the Inquirer.

“Between 60 to 70 percent of our patients are using the medicine for pain,” said Chris Visco, president of TerraVida Holistic Centers, the state’s largest medical marijuana retailer by volume. “Other common ailments patients report are post-traumatic stress disorder, multiple sclerosis, and cancer.”

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‘Historic’ day for medical marijuana in Pa. as ‘flower’ goes on sale

Sam Wood | Wednesday, August 1, 2018, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Thom Shannon was the first in line.

The medical marijuana dispensary on Old York Road in Abington wouldn’t open its doors for nine more hours. But Shannon, 43, already had been waiting 20 years.

“I was a little premature, but this day is kinda historic,” said Shannon, a burly former executive chef. “I thought this day would never come.”

“Dry leaf” marijuana went on sale Wednesday morning at 16 dispensaries across the state. Additional dispensaries will begin stocking it over the next week. Also known as “flower” or “bud,” dry leaf is the form of the medicine that is the most affordable and familiar to patients and recreational users alike.

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Public faith in marijuana outpaces medical research, study finds

Ian Haydon | Wednesday, July 25, 2018, Philadelphia Inquirer

Despite limited evidence, Americans have an increasingly positive view of the health benefits of marijuana. Nearly two-thirds believe pot can reduce pain, while close to half say it improves symptoms of anxiety, depression, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis, according to a new online survey of 9,003 adults.

Pennsylvania and New Jersey are among the 30 states, along with the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico, that have legalized medical marijuana. But scientists say hard data on the health effects of pot — both positive and negative — are largely missing. Because marijuana is considered an illicit drug by the federal government, research has been scant, though there are efforts underway in Pennsylvania and nationally to remedy that.

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As medical marijuana use grows, company drug and alcohol policies under scrutiny

Steve Twedt | Tuesday, May 15, 2018, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A Quinnipiac University poll last year had 94 percent of respondents saying they favor legalization of medical marijuana.

Presumably, at least some of those supporters own or operate companies or otherwise manage staff as part of their professional responsibilities.

And, despite that expressed support, questions can bubble up for employers when it comes managing a staff member who legally and legitimately uses medical marijuana.

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Pa. marijuana board OKs sale of cannabis leaf and flower

Sam Wood | Monday, April 9, 2018, The Philadelphia Inquirer

The state’s medical marijuana advisory board voted Monday morning to allow the sale of whole-plant cannabis — dry leaf and flower — and recommended expanding the number of serious health conditions that would qualify patients to participate in the program.

Currently, Pennsylvania allows only for the sale of marijuana oils, extracts, pills, and tinctures.

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Pa. treasurer Torsella joins effort to help marijuana businesses obtain banking services

Jan Murphy | Friday, March 30, 2018, Harrisburg Patriot News

State Treasurer Joe Torsella, along with treasurers of two other states, wants to meet with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in hopes of finding a way to ease the problem that marijuana-related companies are having in securing financial institutions willing to do business with them.

Sessions’ January directive to federal prosecutors allowing them to more aggressively enforce the federal law outlawing marijuana has made financial services institutions gun-shy about banking the cannabis industry in Pennsylvania or 28 other states where marijuana is legal for medical or recreational use.

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Pa. medical marijuana program to balloon, add research

Sam Wood | Thursday, March 22, 2018, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Pennsylvania’s commercial medical marijuana program is set to more than double in size.

State officials Thursday announced the program was entering its second phase, expanding from 12 to 25 cannabis producers and adding 23 more dispensary operators.

The state also is launching a unique research effort that will run in parallel to the established commercial program, conducting clinical investigations into marijuana and selling to the public.

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Pa. marijuana panel recommends sale of smokable marijuana

Sam Wood | Tuesday, March 6, 2018, The Philadelphia Inquirer

The menu of options available at medical cannabis dispensaries may soon grow to include “dry leaf and flower,” the green and fragrant herb once sold illicitly in dime bags.

On Monday, the governor’s Medical Marijuana Advisory Board met in Harrisburg to consider changes to the program. Since mid-February, six dispensaries have been selling highly processed — and pricey — concentrates, pills and tinctures.

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Medical marijuana will go on sale in Pa. this week

David Wenner | Tuesday, February 13, 2018, The Patriot News

Pennsylvania’s first medical marijuana dispensary will begin sales on Thursday and sales will begin at five other locations by the end of the week, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Tuesday.

The first medical marijuana dispensary to begin sales, on Thursday, is located in Butler County north of Pittsburgh.

In the Harrisburg region, Organic Remedies Dispensary in Hampden Township in Cumberland County will begin sales Friday, Wolf announced. Dispensaries in Bethlehem, Pa. and Pittsburgh are also set to open Friday.

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Pennsylvania Health Department ordered to grant access to medical marijuana providers

Ben Schmitt | Monday, January 15, 2018, Pittsburgh Tribune Review

The Pennsylvania Department of Health must reveal more information about organizations that applied for licenses to be medical marijuana growers and dispensaries, according to a state Office of Open Records ruling.

Over the summer, the Health Department released the names of 27 statewide medical marijuana dispensaries and 12 growers. But much of the information was redacted, as the department allowed applicants to black out information they wanted kept confidential.

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Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf vows to protect medical marijuana from federal government

Ben Schmitt | Thursday, January 4, 2018, Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Gov. Tom Wolf vowed Thursday to protect Pennsylvanians from what he called “backwards attacks” by the federal government on the state’s new medical marijuana program.

Wolf’s stance came following U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announcement that he is doing away with the Obama-era policy that had paved the way for legalized marijuana to flourish in states across the country.

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More than 10,000 patients register for medical marijuana in Pa.

Jan Murphy | Wednesday, December 27, 2017, Harrisburg Patriot News

Some 10,135 patients have registered to participate in Pennsylvania’s nascent medical marijuana program so far with 1,188 of them certified by physicians to participate in the program, according to the state Department of Health.

“Patients have started to receive their medical marijuana identification cards, bringing us one step closer to getting medication to patients in the next four months,” Gov. Tom Wolf said in a news release.

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With no budget, and a gag on advertising, Pa. marijuana growers and doctors get creative

Sam Wood | Tuesday, November 21, 2017, The Philadelphia Inquirer

What if Pennsylvania had a medical marijuana program but few people knew it?

With hundreds of millions of dollars invested in cannabis growing facilities and dispensaries — and the health of thousands of prospective patients on the line — alerting state residents to the program should be a priority. But there’s effectively a gag order on nearly all players involved.

The state Department of Health, responsible for the program’s roll-out, has no budget to pay for advertising. Marijuana growers, processors and dispensaries are prohibited by law from actively promoting their wares. And doctors who write recommendations for medical cannabis are forbidden from publicizing that they’re participating.

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