Medical marijuana just became a lot more affordable in Pennsylvania. New legislation passed by the Pennsylvania medical marijuana board supports whole-plant sales. Additionally, the board is looking to expand the list of conditions qualifying for medical marijuana treatment and protect doctors from prosecution. Here is a closer look at the state’s evolving cannabis policy.
The Medical Marijuana Board Is Changing Cannabis Legislation
Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana board reached a critical consensus regarding whole-plant sales: Medical marijuana users should have access to dry leaf and flower. Currently, dispensaries only sell medical marijuana as oils, pills, tinctures and extracts.
Now that the Pennsylvania medical marijuana board supports whole-plant sales, the next legal step is to get Secretary of Health Rachel Levine to approve the measure. This could take a year.
Whole Plant Sales Will Mean More Accessible Herb
People with medical marijuana access in California and Colorado purchase more flower than extracts or edibles. This is largely because flower is cheaper than other, more labor-intensive, forms of medical marijuana.
Pennsylvanians with legal access to cannabis often have trouble affording it due to the state’s tight laws on flower. Legalizing whole plant sale would let the people for whom the program was designed actually benefit from it.
Smoking Marijuana In Pennsylvania Will Still Be Illegal
If it passes, this new allowance will be great. But medical marijuana users will only be supposed to vaporize marijuana flower.
If they choose to smoke it, though, they aren’t likely to face legal ramifications. According to Chris Goldstein, contributor to Philly.com and author of Philly420, “We’ve never had a report of state police or health officials cracking down on how patients consume their cannabis.”
For the time being, edibles will also remain illegal in Pennsylvania. This doesn’t mean that medical marijuana patients can’t make them at home using store bought oil.
Now that the Pennsylvania medical marijuana board supports whole-plant sales, medical marijuana users will also be able to make their own oil at home.
Medical Marijuana Board Wants To Give More People Access To Medical Marijuana
The Board is adding to the list of health conditions that qualify people for medical marijuana. This would mean that people experiencing spinal-cord damage, neurodegenerative diseases, opioid withdrawal and terminal illnesses can access cannabis.
Research shows that marijuana can be a substitute for addictive pain medications, and some are using it to treat opioid withdrawal. Connecticut is adding marijuana as a legal treatment for opioid addiction.
Doctors May Soon Have More Privacy
Federal prosecution is a major concern for the doctors who suggest medical marijuana. As Pennsylvania publishes a list of all doctors who write recommendations for cannabis, this fear is well-founded.
The Medical Marijuana Board wants to eliminate this registry to protect these doctors from legal action. More doctors might want to participate if they knew that their identities—and medical licenses—were safeguarded. Currently, out of 53,000 doctors in the state, only 500 write recommendations for medical marijuana.
A downside to getting rid of this list could be that people would have a hard time finding a doctor who would give them an official recommendation for medical marijuana.
Final Hit: Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Board Supports Whole-Plant Sales
This is the first, of hopefully many steps to expand Pennsylvania’s tough marijuana policy. If the Secretary of Health approves the Board’s decision to expand access to marijuana, permit whole-plant sales and protect doctors’ identities, medical marijuana treatment could become a reality for more Pennsylvanians.