History was made in 2016 for medical marijuana legislation. 2017 saw movement for doctors, entrepreneurs other business startups trying to get their footing in the the industry. Here’s a recap of everything medical marijuana during the past year:
State weighs 500-plus applicants for medical marijuana business
When the state gave the go ahead for legalizing medical marijuana, the business community responded and the competition was fierce.
More than 500 businesses earlier this year had applied to grow, process and dispense medical marijuana in Pennsylvania.
The applications were evaluated for completeness and then scored by an anonymous selection panel. The winners were announced later in the summer.
Medical marijuana dispensaries named, include midstate sites
Pennsylvania health officials released the names of 27 companies awarded medical marijuana dispensary licenses, and midstate counties were strongly represented.
When Pennsylvania’s first recipients of medical marijuana grower/processor licenses were announced in June, most were in rural areas or small communities away from major cities, with no successful applicants in Dauphin, Cumberland, Lebanon, York or Lancaster counties.
The dispensary list was a different story, with Lancaster, Cumberland, Dauphin and York all represented.
The names of the companies awarded was among our most read stories for the year for CPBJ.
Medical marijuana versus existing drugs: Local doc talks cannabis, chemicals and lack of research
There is a lot that we don’t know about medical marijuana.
It will likely be used along with other medications, as there is not yet adequate research on the drug to support using it as a substitute for existing pharmaceuticals.
In May 2016, medical marijuana became legal in Pennsylvania as a treatment for 17 health conditions, such as chronic pain and epilepsy, and evidence suggests chemical compounds in the cannabis plant could help ease symptoms of those conditions.
Other studies show that medical marijuana, in states where it has become legal, has saved states money on prescription drug costs.
Yet medical marijuana remains illegal under federal law, slowing further research in the U.S. and forcing patients to pay for the drug out of pocket, because its not covered by insurance companies.
Which doctors are on Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana registry?
As of November, more than 100 physicians have been approved to participate in Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program, state health officials announced Wednesday, with a dozen of them located in the midstate.
The roster includes four doctors from Cumberland County, two from Dauphin County, two from Lancaster County, one from Lebanon County and three from York County.
DePasquale makes push for legal marijuana
Will this be the next step?
Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale went public earlier this year on why he thinks recreational marijuana use should be legalized in this state.
DePasquale believes legalized pot could generate $200 million for the cash-strapped Pennsylvania’s general fund.
He also believes legalization could reduce the costs and stigma associated with criminal prosecution of marijuana-related crimes.
“I make this recommendation because it is a more sane policy to deal with a critical issue facing the state,” DePasquale said in March. “Other states are already taking advantage of the opportunity for massive job creation and savings from reduced arrests and prosecutions.”