Pennsylvania medical marijuana patients will have access to cannabis flower when it becomes available in dispensaries on August 1. Under Pennsylvania law, patients will not be allowed to smoke medical marijuana. However, vaporizing “dry leaf” cannabis, as it is referred to in state regulations, will be permissible.
“We’re expecting 300 to 400 patients at our Abington store the first day,” said Visco. “People will likely be in line at 8 a.m. We’re hiring an extra security guard and an extra valet parking person. This is a game-changer.”
More Affordable Option for Patients
Luke Schultz is a medicinal cannabis advocate who serves on the state’s medical marijuana advisory board. He said that “dry leaf” cannabis gives patients a more affordable option.
“The price point of the flower will be less than the concentrates because it doesn’t have to go through additional processing,” said Schultz. “We hope it will be at or slightly above what black market prices are because the program should be designed to discourage people going to the black market.”
Rob Stanley, the manager of Restore Integrative Wellness Center in Fishtown, said that the dispensary will have longer business hours on August 1 in order to handle the expected increased demand. He agreed that flower can be more economical for his customers.
“We’re trying to keep it affordable and not take advantage of anyone,” said Stanley. “Once the market grows, we hope to be able to further drop our prices,” he added.
No Looking, No Smelling
Stanley noted that regulations require cannabis flower to be sealed in opaque packaging, so patients won’t be able to get picky with their selections.
“You can’t see it, and you can’t smell it in the dispensary,” Stanley said. “If you want a look, we’ll have high-definition pictures. And they look great.”
Physician Sue Sisley, founder of the Scottsdale Research Institute, said that processed products such as concentrates are “suboptimal forms” of cannabis. She says that they are not as effective as the natural whole plant.
“It’s like the difference between an orange and orange juice,” Sisley said. “Flower gives you the natural entourage effect. There are 400 bioactive molecules in the plant, 130-plus cannabinoids and dozens of terpenes and flavonoids. The theory is that the molecules all work together. Processing into oils and concentrates strips many of them away.”
No Smoking Allowed
Peter Marcus, a spokesman for Terrapin Pennsylvania, reminded patients that smoking cannabis is still not permitted under the state’s medical marijuana regulations.
“Smoking dry leaf is illegal in Pennsylvania,” Marcus said. “If they’re caught smoking the product, their patient card could be rescinded.”
“Understandably, it would be difficult for the state to enforce such a rule, but patients should still be cautious and be aware the law exists,” Marcus added. “For some consumers, they might find vaping to have a cleaner taste and easier on the throat. It’s a great method.”