Pennsylvania announces medical cannabis licensing plan

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Pennsylvania will issue applications for medical marijuana cultivation, processing and dispensary licenses on Jan. 17, and applicants will have between Feb. 20 and March 20 to submit their bids, state regulators said at a news conference Wednesday.

Dr. Karen Murphy, the state’s secretary of health, and John Collins, director of Pennsylvania’s Office of Medical Marijuana, also announced that the allotted licenses will be awarded in phases instead of all at once.

Pennsylvania’s temporary program rules call for permits for 25 growers/processors and 50 for dispensaries. Each dispensary permit covers up to three storefronts, which means the state could have a total of 150 MMJ locations.

In Phase 1 of the rollout, officials plan initially to make 12 grower/processor permits available, as well as 27 dispensary licenses.

Collins estimated that after the final applications are received March 20, it will take about 90 days to review the applications. Murphy said state officials are expecting up to 900 applications.

While Collins and Murphy couldn’t predict when license winners would be announced, they said the state was still on track for the first dispensaries to open in 2018.

State officials were still working on their Phase 2 plan and could not say when that would commence or be announced.

Temporary regulations for cannabis testing laboratories will be released Saturday, Murphy said.