Medical Marijuana Program Celebrates Five-Year Anniversary, Continues Commitment to Patients in Pennsylvania
April 17, 2021
Governor Tom Wolf today commemorated the five-year anniversary of Act 16 of 2016, better known as the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act, which established the medical marijuana program in the commonwealth.
Close to 553,000 patients and caregivers are registered for the program in order to obtain medical marijuana for one of 23 serious medical conditions. There are more than 327,400 active certifications as part of the program.
“On the five-year anniversary of the creation of Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program, we continue to forge ahead in getting medicine to those with serious medical conditions,” Gov. Wolf said. “The work that the Department of Health does to ensure that products are available and that patients are able to receive medicine as seamlessly as possible, particularly during the pandemic, is exemplary.”
All of the 114 operational dispensaries are open and dispensing products to patients. Twenty-eight grower/processors are operational, with 23 shipping product to dispensaries. Many of these grower/processors have recently expanded their location, or are in the process of doing so to help ensure that they are able to provide more products to those with one of the 23 serious medical conditions eligible for use of medical marijuana products.
“In addition to the well-run medical marijuana program, the department is very proud of its unique and first-of-its-kind medical marijuana research program,” said Acting Sec. of Health Alison Beam. “It is clear that the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program is among the most successful programs across the country.”
The clinical research program, guided by Act 43 of 2018, allows for eight clinical registrants who each must hold both a grower/processor and a dispensary permit. Clinical registrants must have a research contract with one of eight approved academic clinical research centers.
Active cardholders are continuing to visit dispensaries more than once a month to get treatment for a serious medical condition. More than 31.2 million products have been sold since the start of the program, and total sales within the program are close to $2.6 billion, which includes sales by the grower/processors to the dispensaries, and sales by the dispensaries to patients and caregivers. More than $1.5 billion in sales has been from the dispensaries to patients.
More than 2,100 physicians have registered for the program, more than 1,530 of whom have been approved as practitioners.
“From before I signed the Act, the state’s medical marijuana program’s success has been a tribute to the support received from patients and caregivers,” Gov. Wolf said. “The dedication from patients and caregivers in offering guidance and support is a testament to the value of this significant program.”
As a sign of the program’s continued commitment to get medical marijuana to patients, in March of 2020 the program temporarily suspended certain statutory and regulatory provisions in order to improve access to this form of medication during the COVID-19 emergency to:
Allow dispensary employees to provide medical marijuana to cardholders in their vehicles on the facility’s property;
Remove the current cap that limits the number of patients assigned to one caregiver, to allow for more caregivers to patients in need;
Eliminate background checks for caregiver applications, limited to renewal applications only, in order to expedite the caregiver renewal process;
Suspend in-person consultations and allow for remote consultations between approved practitioners and medical marijuana patients; and
Suspend limitation on medical marijuana dispensing to 30 days by requiring approved practitioners to notate on the patient’s certification to dispense a 90-day supply.
Suspend requirement for a medical professional – physician, pharmacist, physician assistant or certified registered nurse practitioner – to be on site at the dispensary during dispensing hours, which allows for medical professionals to work remotely.
The statutory and regulatory suspensions will remain in place for as long as the Proclamation of Disaster Emergency is in effect.
Proposed Rulemaking 3/6/21
Saturday, March 6, 2021
Notice re: PROPOSED RULEMAKING Medical Marijuana Proposed Regulations
On Saturday, March 6, 2021, the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program's proposed regulations will be posted in the PA Bulletin. These proposed regulations may be found at the following link today:
Interested persons are invited to submit written comments, suggestions, or objections regarding the proposed regulations to John J. Collins, Director, Office of Medical Marijuana, Department of Health, Room 628, Health and Welfare Building, 625 Forster Street Harrisburg, PA 17120, (717) 547-3047, or by email to within 30 days after publican of these proposed regulations in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Persons with a disability who wish to submit comments, suggestions, or objects regarding the proposed regulations may do so by using the above number or address/ Speech and/or hearing-impaired persons may submit comments, suggestions, or objections by calling the Pennsylvania AT&T Relay Services at (800) 654-5984 (TDD users) or (800) 654-5988 (voice users).
Please note, interested persons are encouraged to include the specific citation (e.g.1141.45(a)) of the proposed regulations they are refereningc when providing comments.
Senators reveal bipartisan plan to legalize weed, expunge records in Pennsylvania
Stephen Caruso - February 24, 2021
As Pennsylvania faces a potential multi-billion dollar budget hole, a Republican and Democratic state senator are introducing a bipartisan proposal to legalize and tax recreational cannabis.
The sponsors, Sens. Dan Laughlin, R-Erie, and Sharif Street, D-Philadelphia, cited shifting public attitudes, as well as the potential gain from a new crop for farmers, a fresh start for those with a possession arrest on their record, and a boast to the state’s bottom line.
“I pledged to never raise taxes when I ran for this seat, and I refuse to see a single tax raised on Pennsylvanians when an opportunity for new revenue to balance our state budget is right in front of us,” Laughlin said during a Wednesday news conference at the Capitol.
Under their plan, people age 21 and older could purchase marijuana. And, as is the case with cigarettes, marketing directed to children would be banned.
The plan also would allow state medical marijuana patients — but not recreational users — to grow their own cannabis at home.
The senators added that their plan would also expunge non-violent marijuana convictions, decriminalize weed up to a certain limit, and enable the state’s independent farmers to grow pot as a crop. They are already allowed to grow hemp, a less potent form of cannabis.
Licenses would also be given to “social and economic equity applicants,” according to a memo to Senate colleagues.
“We want to make sure this is not just a boon for the big guys,” Street said.
Exact language of the proposal still hasn’t been released.
As for revenue, Laughlin cited the state’s Independent Fiscal Office, a non-partisan policy analysis agency, to claim the state could bring in up to $1 billion a year in revenue.
Matt Knittel, the office’s executive director, said in an email that his agency had not officially researched the subject. Instead, the number Laughlin used was a ballpark estimate Knittel offered up last week in response to a question at a budget hearing.
In response, Knittel said that based on other states’ tax revenues, Pennsylvania could raise “somewhere between California and Colorado,” or between $400 million to $1 billion a year.
The proposal has the support of the Pennsylvania Cannabis Coalition, an industry group of medical cannabis growers, processors, sellers and researchers. Coalition Executive Director Meredith Buettner said the group was “ready to work” with lawmakers to develop a safe, beneficial outcome for the commonwealth.
It also excited grassroots cannabis advocates. Patrick Nightingale, president of the Pittsburgh chapter of NORML, a nationwide cannabis advocacy group, pointed to the legalization of home growth as a key feature.
Such a provision allows low-income patients who can’t afford Pennsylvania’s highly priced medical weed to save money on their medicine, he said.
And regardless of the specifics, seeing a Republican back the proposal was akin to hitting the jackpot, Nightingale argued.
“We understand it may not be the perfect bill cannabis activists want to see,” he said. But “the fact we’re having this conversation in earnest with our conservative friends and allies” could bring with it reform this year.
Laughlin first signaled support for legalization last year, and now fresh off reelection to a four-year term, he argued that supporting legalization was consistent with his, and his party’s, conservative values.
“Republicans stand for freedom, and I don’t know what is more Republican than this,” Laughlin said.
But other members of his party haven’t bought into the hype. Republican leadership in the General Assembly has consistently opposed legalizing it.
As recently as August 2020, House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre, has called legalization “utterly irresponsible.” Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre, has previously called it “reckless and irresponsible.”
As of Feb. 2021, Laughlin said Senate GOP leadership had at least given him the go ahead to pursue the issue. A spokesperson for Corman said he would let the committee process play out.
Jason Gottesman, a spokesperson for Benninghoff, pointed out that the state’s medical marijuana program, which Benninghoff voted for, passed just five years ago.
That program needs more time to research the effects of marijuana use before the General Assembly takes further action, he added.
Legalizing weed first started to appear on Harrisburg’s agenda when a statewide Democrat, former Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, signaled support in 2017. He was joined by newly elected Lt. Gov. John Fetterman in 2018. In late 2019, Gov. Tom Wolf, at first a skeptic, also backed legalization.
Public polling has shown majority support for legalization. Fetterman meanwhile conducted a non-scientific listening tour of the state to gauge support for legalization.
He found widespread anecdotal backing, with fall off only among some rural central Pennsylvania counties.
Decriminalization, which eliminates criminal penalties but prevents the legal sale of marijuana, had even broader support. It has also generated a little more support among Republicans in the past years. But Laughlin and Street didn’t think it was right to take a half measure.
“We don’t want to build a black market. We want to eliminate it,” Street said.
A bill just signed into law in neighboring New Jersey legalized recreational cannabis this week. New York, where Democrats control the executive and legislative branches, could be next.
So far, 14 states nationwide have legalized recreational marijuana.
Gov. Budget Address
Pennsylvania Cannabis Coalition Applauds Governor Wolf’s ’s Adult-Use Cannabis Support
Now is the time for Legislators to Act and Bring New Jobs and Revenue to the Commonwealth
HARRISBURG, PA -- Pennsylvania Governor, Tom Wolf today in his 2021 budget address recognized the benefits of regulated adult use cannabis for the Commonwealth. The Pennsylvania Cannabis Coalition, which represents Pennsylvania’s licensed medical marijuana industry, supports the creation of a highly regulated adult-use cannabis market that will bring much-needed jobs and revenue to the Commonwealth.
Statement from Meredith Buettner, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Cannabis Coalition:
2021 marks the 5th anniversary of Act 16, the legislation that enabled the creation of Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program. Since that time, the Commonwealth has benefitted from the creation of over 9,000 full-time jobs and millions of dollars in new revenue, while over 425,000 lives were enriched through the availability of medical cannabis.
Today, Pennsylvania has the opportunity to build on the success of its medical program and create a well-regulated adult-use cannabis market that will generate significant new revenue that will offset the need to raise taxes and generate thousands of new living-wage jobs across the Commonwealth.
We urge lawmakers to act now to ensure that the job creation and revenue realized from legalized marijuana remains in Pennsylvania. Each day we wait to act results in potential jobs, revenue, and investment bleeding across our borders to New Jersey, and soon, New York.
The Pennsylvania Cannabis Coalition is ready to work with the legislature and the administration to deliver an adult use cannabis program through a legislative process that will deliver the safest, most beneficial outcome to Pennsylvania.
Affiliate Membership for Industry Partners
The Pennsylvania Cannabis Coalition is excited to announce that in December PCC Membership voted to approve an “Affiliate Membership” status for our industry partners. PCC will begin accepting applications for Affiliate Memberships beginning in January 2021.
The Affiliate Membership program brings together the greater Pennsylvania Cannabis Community in order to advance legislation, regulations and implementation of Pennsylvania’s cannabis program. Affiliate Membership is open to any individual, firm, partnership, corporation who supports the purposes of PCC and has current relationships with permit holders in the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program. Examples of Affiliate Member businesses include but are not limited to cannabis accessories; cultivation equipment or supplies; dispensary equipment or supplies; financial, legal, advocacy or insurance services; packaging, security or software companies.
Affiliate Members may participate in all PCC programming, meetings and receive coalition communications. Affiliate Members may join relevant committees but are not eligible for membership on the Executive Committee as they are classified as Non-Voting. Affiliate Members will receive an updated business-to-business contact sheet for all members and have logo and company information displayed on the Affiliate Member page of the PCC Website. Opportunities for advertising and presenting to membership will also be available to Affiliate Members.
Affiliate Member dues for 2021 will be $1,000 per quarter.
If you are interested in becoming and Affiliate Member please download the PCC Membership Application below and return to PCC Executive Director - Meredith Buettner at Meredtih@Pcanna.org. Once your membership agreement is executed an invoice will be generate. Your membership will begin upon receipt of your dues.
If you have any questions please email or call PCC at 717-220-3508
Pennsylvania Must Act Now to Secure Investment & Revenue
Harrisburg, PA: Once again, cannabis carried Election Day. On Tuesday, nearby New Jersey, as well as Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota, became the latest state to legalize adult-use cannabis. These four states join eleven others (and Washington, D.C.) in regulating cannabis for persons over the age of 21.
This news should serve as a wake-up call to Pennsylvania. As seen time and again, adult-use cannabis presents an opportunity to deliver immediate economic and social benefits to the Commonwealth. By acting now, the legislature can ensure that the job creation and revenue realized from regulating marijuana remain in Pennsylvania and do not bleed across our borders. Each day we wait to act results in potential revenue and investment hemorrhaging across our borders to New Jersey, and soon, New York.
Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program has proven that cannabis can be safely produced and successfully delivered to patients. As a result, there has been a positive impact on the health and well-being of Pennsylvanians. The existing operators have a proven track record and are prepared to provide the Commonwealth an at-the-ready infrastructure to deliver adult-use cannabis safely and efficiently. Existing operators have already created thousands of jobs, built infrastructure to provide medicine to patients, and can quickly establish a revenue generating adult use market without impacting the medical program.
The Pennsylvania Cannabis Coalition believes that a highly regulated market created through a legislative process will deliver the safest, most beneficial outcome to Pennsylvania. We look forward to working with the legislature to help us realize this opportunity at a critical time.
Pennsylvania Cannabis Coalition Applauds Governor Wolf's Call for Legalization of Cannabis
Harrisburg, PA: The Pennsylvania Cannabis Coalition (PCC), the trade association for Pennsylvania’s licensed marijuana industry, applauds Governor Wolf’s call for legalization of cannabis in an effort to address the Commonwealth’s budget problem and displace the harms of an illicit marijuana market. “Our members are ready to act quickly and build upon the success of Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program to help address the economic reality that Pennsylvania is facing by creating an inclusive, yet well-regulated adult-use program,” said Meredith Buettner, the Executive Director of the PCC.
“We agree with Governor Wolf that now is the time to address the legalization of marijuana in Pennsylvania. By creating a well-regulated adult-use market we can help address the budget deficit, create family-sustaining careers, and reduce the illicit drug market in the Commonwealth” said PCC President Bob Pease.
“We urge the Governor and the Legislature to use the experience of existing operators as the on-ramp to a robust adult-use market while allowing for market expansion through small business and diversity programs. Our members can create a sustainable market quickly and safely, which allows tax revenue to be realized immediately. Adult-use markets that have used this approach are the most successful in the nation. PCC members have the standard operating procedures in place to get the initial adult-use market up and running expeditiously while still prioritizing patients in the medical program,” said Buettner. The additional job growth and community investment that accompany the creation of a well regulated adult-use market are crucial to the Commonwealth in a post covid-19 environment.
“With the appropriate anti-diversion measures, tax structure and social equity focus Pennsylvania stands to become a premier market for adult-use cannabis, but it must be done correctly. The dubious legality of a state market for cannabis is highly concerning to the industry. The Commonwealth’s patients, consumers and taxpayers are much better served by the creation of a separate commission to regulate both the medical and adult-use markets” noted Buettner. We look forward to working with the Governor and Lt. Governor to ensure that adult-use legislation is done safely and effectively while allowing tax revenue to be realized quickly.
### 30 ###
Pennsylvania Cannabis Coalition Applauds Governor Wolf's Call for Legalization of Cannabis
Harrisburg, PA: The Pennsylvania Cannabis Coalition (PCC), the trade association for Pennsylvania’s licensed marijuana industry, applauds Governor Wolf’s call for legalization of cannabis in an effort to address the Commonwealth’s budget problem. PCC membership is prepared to act quickly and build upon the success of Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program to help address the economic reality that Pennsylvania is facing by creating an inclusive, yet well-regulated adult-use program.
“We agree with Governor Wolf that it is time to address the legalization of marijuana in Pennsylvania. By creating a well-regulated adult-use market we can help address the budget gap, create family-sustaining jobs and reduce the illicit drug market in the Commonwealth” said PCC President Bob Pease.
### 30 ###
Principle-Based Adult-Use Approach
Pennsylvania Cannabis Coalition Calls For a Principle-Based Approach To Adult-Use Marijuana
Harrisburg, PA: The Pennsylvania Cannabis Coalition (PCC), the trade association for Pennsylvania’s licensed marijuana industry, calls for a principle-based approach to the development of a sustainable, diverse, and well-regulated adult-use cannabis industry in the Commonwealth. By building upon the success of Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program, the Commonwealth can address the social and economic barriers that many Pennsylvania communities face by creating an inclusive, yet well-regulated adult-use program. PCC believes that the Commonwealth’s existing operators are best suited to the establishment of an adult-use infrastructure based on the following principles:
Broad access to ownership and diversity of our workforce – ensure there is a low barrier to entry for new market participants and support to ensure their success;
Infrastructure and economic development – build a robust program by creating living-wage, upwardly-mobile career paths for employees, while increasing economic development in Pennsylvania communities;
Social Responsibility – provide economic opportunity to areas disproportionally impacted by the War on Drugs campaign and prioritize the decriminalization of non-violent cannabis offenses; and,
Security, Safety and Consumer Protections – continue the high standards of quality assurance required under the medical program. Support the efforts of public health and law enforcement agencies to develop tools to deter DUI, substance abuse, and teen use, with an emphasis on undermining the illicit market for marijuana.
“A principle-based approach to the establishment of an adult-use program comes on the heels of polling released in May demonstrating the broad, bi-partisan support of allowing the sale of adult-use marijuana in the Commonwealth” said PCC President Bob Pease. “Our existing operators are ready and well-suited to embrace an adult-use program. We look forward to working with the legislature to develop a program that creates jobs, tax revenue and increases consumer protections by displacing an illicit market.”
For question about PCC's Two-pager on adult-use please contact
### 30 ###
Recent Adult-Use Survey
Two-Thirds of Pennsylvanians Support Allowing
the Sale of Adult-Use Cannabis
HARRISBURG, PA: The Pennsylvania Cannabis Coalition (PCC), the trade association for Pennsylvania’s licensed marijuana industry, released a poll today affirming public support for regulating and taxing the sale of cannabis for adult-use in Pennsylvania. Polling likely voters from April 21-26, 2020, the findings document widespread support for allowing adult-use across all demographics, political affiliations and regions of Pennsylvania.
“Statewide majorities of conservatives, moderates and liberals believe allowing the sale of adult-use cannabis is an idea whose time has come,” said PCC President Bob Pease, “Allowing adult-use will create jobs, generate tax revenue, displace an illicit market and increase consumer protections.” Pennsylvania’s Governor Wolf anticipates the FY ’19-’20 Commonwealth budget will face a deficit in excess of $5 billion ahead of the constitutionally-mandated balanced budget deadline. Pennsylvania’s Auditor General’s Office previously released a study indicating adult-use cannabis can generate over $581M of new tax revenue annually for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
“A well-formed adult-use program that is regulated, taxed and controlled will provide opportunities for those harmed by inequity created by the War on Drugs while supporting the Commonwealth’s budget in these challenging fiscal times,” continued Pease.
Recently, the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union documented that African American Pennsylvanians are three times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.
“While many have reported on Democratic support of legalization, a key finding of the poll was the electoral support of adult-use among Republicans. The numbers are clear: Supporting adult-use is a flat-out good vote,” emphasized Pease, “Fewer than 9% of Republicans would vote against a Republican legislator because of their support for adult-use, while nearly 1/3 of Democrats would be more likely to vote for a Republican legislator who supports adult-use.”
Both chambers of the Pennsylvania General Assembly are seated with Republicans holding the majority.
Conducted by Harper Polling, the findings concluded:
Nearly two-in-three likely voters support “allowing the sale of adult-use cannabis in Pennsylvania” (62% favor/29% oppose). A third of likely voters strongly favor (36%);
Conservatives (54% favor), Moderates (63%), and Liberals (76%) all favor allowing the sale of adult-use cannabis. Majorities of voters in every region of the state agree;
Voters across all key demographics would rather see the state regulate and tax adult-use cannabis as opposed to raising income, sales and business taxes. This includes voters in each region of the state (Northern Tier: 65% regulate & tax, Philadelphia/Southeast: 71%, Pittsburgh/Southwest: 70%, Scranton/Lehigh Valley: 72%, South Central: 75%);
A third of Republicans say that if a Republican legislator voted to allow adult-use cannabis, they would enthusiastically support them for re-election (34%). Another 44% of Republicans would consider a legislator’s entire record. A mere 9% of Republicans would vote their legislator out of office due to a vote in support of adult-use cannabis. Younger Republicans would be particularly supportive of a legislator who supports adult-use cannabis (18-39: 45% enthusiastically support);
Nearly a third of Democrats would be more likely to vote for a Republican legislator who they knew “supported controlling, regulating, and taxing the sale of adult-use cannabis in Pennsylvania” (31%). Male Democrats would be especially willing to consider voting for a Republican legislator who supports adult-use cannabis (45% yes), as would younger Democrats (46% yes);
And finally, when presented with a choice, 59% of voters say cannabis should be sold through “licensed cannabis dispensaries run by private entrepreneurs” rather than “state-controlled liquor stores” (24%). Majorities of Republicans (58%), Democrats (57%), and Independents (69%) agree.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Pennsylvania’s current marijuana licensees include 22 operating Grower/Processors and 77 operational dispensaries. Over 260,000 patients are registered with the program, including 168,000 active card holders. The industry services approximately 65,000 patient visits per week with nearly 160,000 products sold per week. Nearly 2.5 million patients have visited dispensaries since the program’s inception, yielding $423 million in retail sales and $288 million in wholesale sales. The industry employs over 4,000 people in Pennsylvania.
For questions about this survey please contact
### 30 ###