Pennsylvania medical schools may start to study cannabis, according to local reports. State officials detailed how the new research program will operate on Thursday.
First State Medical Marijuana Program To Include Research
Pennsylvania legalized medical marijuana in 2016. The law passed by voters includes provisions to promote cannabis studies at medical schools in the state. Proponents of the measure vowed to make the Keystone State a leader in medical marijuana research.
Federal law classifies cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act. Consequently, it is notoriously difficult for researchers to study the plant and its effects.
Regulators at several layers of the federal bureaucracy must approve studies before they can begin. Additionally, cannabis supplied to researchers by the federal government is often of low quality.
Under Pennsylvania’s plan, the state will permit up to eight medical schools to develop cannabis research programs. The University of Pittsburgh School of medicine has already announced its intention to participate in the program.
The schools that conduct research on medical marijuana will each collaborate with a third-party vendor. That entity will also dispense cannabis to patients enrolled in the program. State regulators must approve all suppliers before they can participate. They expect to begin accepting and processing applications from providers next month.
State Is Also Expanding The Medical Marijuana Program
State officials also released plans to expand the states medical marijuana program on Thursday. The second phase of the state’s plan includes adding more dispensaries and companies that grow and process cannabis for patients.
The state plans to add 13 growers/processors to the supply chain. That would bring the total to 25, the number mandated by the state’s medical marijuana statute. So far, 12 cultivators have been licensed by the state. However, only two have actually begun to ship products to dispensaries.
More dispensaries will also be coming to Pennsylvania under the announced expansion plan. At this point, 13 have received licenses but only nine have begun to operate. Plans call for a total of 51 dispensaries to eventually serve the state.
Final Hit: Pennsylvania Medical Schools May Start To Study Cannabis
It’s clear that Pennsylvania needs more capacity in its new medical marijuana supply chain. Dispensaries began serving patients on February 16 of this year. Within two weeks, severe product shortages impeded their ability to operate.
Chris Visco co-owns the TerraVida Holistic Center in Sellersville. He told local media that brisk sales were emptying the shop.
“We have no inventory. We took a shipment on Wednesday. On Thursday, we had the biggest sales day we’ve ever had. By this morning, all we had left were a handful of disposable vape pens,” he said.
Visco added that many more patients than expected were coming through his doors.
“Pennsylvania’s market is much larger than anybody anticipated,” Visco said. “No one could have projected it. I had projected 60 people initially for the entire month,” Visco said. “We had over 600 patients in our first eight days.”
Victor Guadagnino is the owner of Keystone Canna Remedies in Bethlehem. He believes that the shortfalls in Pennsylvania’s new medical marijuana program will be short-lived.
“We’re going through some growing pains. But as other providers come online, I don’t think we’ll see this issue again,” he said.