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Medical marijuana: Grower and processor applications to open in early 2017

Businesses looking to grow and process medical marijuana in Pennsylvania should expect to apply for permits from the state in the first quarter of 2017.

Regulations for growers and processors will be published to the Pennsylvania Bulletin on Oct. 29, the Pennsylvania Department of Health said Tuesday, revealing that it is on track to have a medical marijuana program operational by 2018.

Grower and processor regulations were first open for comment in August on the department’s website, and the department received about 1,000 comments from people interested in the cannabis industry. The now-revised version will be published to the bulletin for further public input.

Also on Tuesday the department released for the first time temporary regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries, and those regulations will be open for review on the department’s website through Nov. 4.

“I am encouraging the public – and specifically the dispensary community – to review the temporary regulations and provide us with their feedback,” Department Secretary Karen Murphy said.

The department expects to publish the final temporary regulations for dispensaries in the bulletin by the end of the year, Murphy said.

Now that the department has released regulations for growers, processors and dispensaries, the next step is to write regulations for physicians, patients and caregivers.

In July the department announced it formed a working group of physicians from health systems across the state such as Danville-based Geisinger Health System and Derry Township-based Penn State Health.

That work group is scheduled to meet again on Nov. 28 to look at potential regulations for doctors, the department said.

The department has also already reached out to patients through a safe harbor provision in the medical marijuana law, which allows caregivers of patients under the age of 18 to apply for permission to give medical marijuana to minors before the statewide program makes it available to everyone.

So far the state has issued 103 safe harbor letters to children, the department said.

Lenay Ruhl

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