The final hurdle between Pennsylvanians and their legal use of medical cannabis fell on Wednesday, as the state began accepting applications for its patient and caregiver registry. But registered patients will have to wait another six months to obtain their medication.
Pennsylvania Launches Medical Marijuana Patient Registry
Still, the state’s announcement is a major step forward. And it comes on the heels of a highly successful pilot program which began after Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Program became law on April 17, 2016. (Just three days too early!)
The launch of the patient registry is part of the state’s steady implementation of the 2016 law.
The state will take six months to review applications for registration with Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis program.
But Wednesday’s launch of the registry isn’t just big news for future medical cannabis patients. Doctors, caregivers, growers and dispensary operators now have the green light to sign up for the state’s medical cannabis program.
A major objective of the state’s more than year-long pilot program was to garner support among licensed physicians. Without doctor participation, a problem which has hampered programs in other states, patients would struggle to obtain certification to obtain medical cannabis.
However, Pennsylvania’s Health Department has already approved more than 100 physicians. Two hundred more are waiting their turn to take the state’s required training.
As of Wednesday, two grower-processor operations have received approval from the state. Ten more are in the approval pipeline and should begin planting seeds in the coming weeks.
Despite these promising numbers, Pennsylvania has yet to approve any medical cannabis dispensaries.
Pennsylvania Launches Medical Marijuana Patient Registry: How To Sign Up
Currently, there are 17 qualifying conditions for medical cannabis in the state of Pennsylvania. And the state has set up a dedicated website where qualifying patients can create a profile.
The website lists approved physicians who are able to certify that a patient suffers from one of the qualifying conditions and recommend medical marijuana for treatment.
With a physician’s recommendation, patients pay a $50 registration fee for their medical cannabis ID card. When approved dispensaries open for business in May, patients will receive their card.
Until then, state officials are issuing “safe harbor” letters which protect parents from criminal charges for obtaining medical cannabis for a child. So far, the state has issued 324 such letters.
And this willingness to work with parents and other caregivers is a telltale sign of the state’s willingness and eagerness to get the program off the ground.
“We are on the verge of getting the program up and running, and I am looking forward to when this valuable medicine—and I mean medicine—will be in patients’ hands,” said Republican State Sen. Mike Folmer, a major sponsor of the law.
And when dispensaries open in May, registered medical cannabis patients in Pennsylvania will finally have that medicine. But only in pill, oil, vapor or liquid form. The law still prohibits cannabis in plant form. And patients can’t grow their own plants.