Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has announced the schedule of openings of medical marijuana dispensaries in the state, much to the relief of thousands of patients.
Between tomorrow (Feb 15, local time) and February 17, 6 dispensaries will open, with the first to be Cresco Yeltrah-Butler.
The six businesses will no doubt be very busy – at the last available count, there were 17,000 registered patients in the state, with nearly 4,000 certified by a physician.
Registrations and certifications have certainly accelerated in recent weeks. Early last month, we reported at that point there was 10,135 patients registered and 1,188 certified.
“Pennsylvanians have been waiting years for this moment,” said the governor. “Medical marijuana is legal, safe and now available to Pennsylvanians suffering from 17 serious medical conditions.”
Among the qualifying conditions is “severe chronic or intractable pain in which conventional therapeutic intervention and opiate therapy is contraindicated or ineffective”.
With an opioid abuse crisis gripping the USA, perhaps at some point the opiate requirement will be dropped as an ounce of abuse prevention is worth a pound of rehab cure. Various studies (including those mentioned here, here, here, here and here) have indicated cannabis may help reduce or replace opioid consumption.
Doctors in the state have well and truly got on board with the medicinal cannabis program, with 708 registered and of that number, 376 have competed the training required to become certified practitioners – up from 550 registered and close to 250 certified at the beginning of January.
Pennsylvania was the 24th US state to legalize medical marijuana after Governor Wolf signed a related bill into law in April 2016. At that point, he said it would take 18-24 months to complete the process of implementing a program; a forecast that has proven pretty spot-on (22 months).
While it has been a long time for suffering patients to wait, thankfully the timeframe hasn’t been drawn out as in some other states. However, it remains to be seen how supply holds up – 6 initial dispensaries among 4,000 certified patients will mean brisk business and could also translate to empty shelves initially, as has been the case in some other states.
To date, 10 dispensaries and 10 grower/processors have been approved to operate in Pennsylvania.
Further information on the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program can be viewed here.