Department of Health Highlights Medical Marijuana Program Following Quarterly Board Meeting

Harrisburg, PA – The Department of Health today highlighted the state’s medical marijuana program following the quarterly Medical Marijuana Advisory Board Meeting. The Medical Marijuana Advisory Board works to ensure that Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program provides patients with access to the latest treatments and meets to discuss patient care, patient safety and new, high-quality research methods.

“It is clear that the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program is among the most successful programs across the country thanks to the support and guidance from patients, caregivers and board members who offer guidance to best support those with serious medical conditions,” Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said. “With this ongoing guidance, we continue to make improvements to the program to ensure Pennsylvanians have seamless access to medicine, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In April 2021, Governor Wolf celebrated five years of Act 16 of 2016, better known as the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act, which established the medical marijuana program in the commonwealth .

To date, there are more than 582,000 patients and caregivers registered for the program, which provides medical marijuana for one of 23 serious medical conditions. There are more than 343,600 active certifications as part of the program.

There are 119 dispensaries open and dispensing products to patients. There are 30 grower/processors who are operational, with 25 shipping medical marijuana product to dispensaries. Many of these grower/processors have recently expanded their locations, or are in the process of doing so to help ensure that they are able to provide more products to patients eligible for use of medical marijuana products.

The clinical research program, guided by Act 43 of 2018, allows for eight clinical registrants that must hold both a grower/processor and a dispensary permit. Clinical registrants must have a research contract with one of eight approved academic clinical research centers.

Active cardholders are continuing to visit dispensaries more than once a month to get treatment for a serious medical condition. More than 34 million products have been sold since the start of the program and total sales within the program are more than $2.8 billion, which includes sales by the grower/processors to the dispensaries and sales by the dispensaries to patients and caregivers. More than $1.7 billion in sales has been from the dispensaries to patients.

More than 1,560 physicians have been approved as practitioners in the program who may certify patients as having a serious medical condition.

As a sign of the program’s continued commitment to get medical marijuana to patients, in March of 2020 the program temporarily suspended certain statutory and regulatory provisions in order to improve access to this form of medication during the COVID-19 emergency to:

·         Allow dispensary employees to provide medical marijuana to cardholders in their vehicles on the facility’s property;

·         Remove the current cap that limits the number of patients assigned to one caregiver, to allow for more caregivers to patients in need;

·         Eliminate background checks for caregiver applications, limited to renewal applications only, in order to expedite the caregiver renewal process;

·         Suspend in-person consultations and allow for remote consultations between approved practitioners and medical marijuana patients; and

·         Suspend limitation on medical marijuana dispensing to 30 days by requiring approved practitioners to notate on the patient’s certification to dispense a 90-day supply.

·         Suspend requirement for a medical professional – physician, pharmacist, physician assistant or certified registered nurse practitioner – to be on site at the dispensary during dispensing hours, which allows for medical professionals to work remotely.

The statutory and regulatory suspensions will remain in place for as long as the Disaster Emergency Declaration is in effect.

The next Medical Marijuana Advisory Board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, August 17, 2021.

For more information about the medical marijuana program, visit www.medicalmarijuana.pa.gov or follow the Department of Health on Facebook and Twitter.

MEDIA CONTACT: Barry Ciccocioppo – [email protected]

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Janelle B. Smith

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