Man vaping in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s Medical Cannabis Program Is Slated For Big Growth

Pennsylvania’s Health Department projects the state will have up to 250,000 medical marijuana patients.

Jun 4, 2018 - Rob Hoffman

(Photo by Laura Lezza/Getty Images)

Man vaping in Pennsylvania

(Photo by Laura Lezza/Getty Images)

Less than two weeks after Pennsylvania officially launched their medical cannabis program this past February, dispensaries ran out of cannabis. While the unexpected volume of customers resulted in a brief crisis for dispensaries and patients alike, the state is now back on track to serve more patients than ever.

Not only can patients once again purchase medical cannabis from the freshly-stocked dispensaries, but there are also more dispensaries to choose from. Pennsylvania’s website previously listed only six dispensaries in the state. Now, there are more than two dozen.

Solevo Wellness, a medical cannabis dispensary in Pittsburgh, told CBS Pittsburgh that they’re now receiving an average customer base of 140 patients per day, which can sometimes reach as high as 200. The dispensary has even reportedly hired more staff to keep up with the demand.  This week, Philadelphia opened its first medical cannabis dispensary. Allentown is also preparing to open its first dispensary in June.

Currently, 20,000 people in Pennsylvania possess medical cannabis cards, with an additional 20,000 moving through the application process. The state’s Health Department projects that this number will reach as high as 250,000 patients.

Pennsylvania’s Department of Health recently added opioid use disorders to the state’s list of qualifying conditions—the second state in the country to do so. The department also approved the sale of cannabis flower at dispensaries, which offers patients a cheaper alternative to the oils that were previously only available. (Smoking cannabis is still not considered legal, but patients are technically allowed to vape.) 

Still, not everything has been running smoothly in the state’s medical cannabis program.

Earlier this month, a first-of-its-kind medical cannabis program was blocked by a Pennsylvania court injunction after a number of licensed cannabis businesses filed a suit. These cannabis businesses worried that the program would oversaturate the market because companies involved in the program would be awarded university contracts permitting them to cultivate their own cannabis and open six dispensaries.

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