Chart: Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana market set to become one of the country’s biggest

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Sales of medical marijuana are expected to begin in Pennsylvania this spring, with the state poised to become one of the largest MMJ markets in the nation.

With cultivation underway and both patients and doctors registering with the program, the state’s MMJ market is progressing ahead of schedule – a rarity in the cannabis industry.

Pennsylvania is the fifth-largest state in the country, home to nearly 13 million people.

Considering the state’s extensive list of conditions that can be treated with MMJ – including chronic pain – the patient base could reach 100,000-200,000 once the market matures.

According to Marijuana Business Daily estimates, the state’s dispensary sales could exceed $100 million annually a few years after the program launches.

Here’s what you need to know about the situation:

  • A total of 50 dispensary licenses and 25 grower/processor licenses will be issued in Pennsylvania. However, the permitting process is being rolled out in two phases. To date, Pennsylvania’s Department of Health has issued 27 dispensary licenses and 12 grower/processor licenses. No timeline has been released for the second phase of licensing.
  • Each dispensary license holder is authorized to open up to three storefronts, meaning a maximum of 150 dispensaries will be allowed to open throughout the state. Several of the 27 current dispensary license holders have chosen to open multiple locations, with a total of 52 dispensary storefronts expected to open shortly after the program launches.
  • Given the potential size of Pennsylvania’s MMJ market and the lack of any residency requirements, a significant amount of companies based outside Pennsylvania have pursued MMJ business licenses in the state. Four of the 12 grower/processor licenses and six of the 27 dispensary licenses were granted to out-of-state companies.
  • Similar to New York, the sale of both flower and edibles are prohibited in Pennsylvania. This has potential to suppress MMJ sales, because some potential patients may choose to stay in the black market.
  • Of the four states that border Pennsylvania with active MMJ programs – Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and New York – the average time for the first licensed dispensary to open after the state’s MMJ bill passed was 37 months. Should Pennsylvania begin MMJ sales in or around April, as expected, it will beat this average elapsed time from legalization to sales by over a year.
  • In response to Attorney General Jeff Session’s decision to rescind Obama-era policies that allowed legalized marijuana to thrive in the United States, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has pledged to defend the state’s MMJ program. In a statement released earlier this month, Wolf staid: “We are evaluating the exact impact rescinding the directive could have on Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program but I will continue to do everything in my power to protect Pennsylvania patients.”

Eli McVey can be reached at