Pennsylvania governor expected to OK medical cannabis expansion

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Pennsylvania state lawmakers this week approved a bill that would end what they call a “near-monopoly” in the state’s medical cannabis market currently controlled by major multistate operators.

The bill now goes to Gov. Josh Shapiro, according to The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News, and the Democrat is expected to sign the legislation into law.

That would help “small Pennsylvania businesses to compete against large multistate operators that have come into this state and attempted to take over an entire industry, Republican state Sen. Christopher Gebhard said, according to Lancaster Online.

Up to 10 growers and four dispensaries statewide would meet criteria to apply for extra licenses, according to a state health department analysis.

Strict license caps written into Pennsylvania’s 2016 medical marijuana law limit business opportunities in the state.

Current law limits the number of “grower/processor” licenses issued in the state to 25, with only five of those allowed to also hold a dispensary permit.

Dispensary licenses are limited to no more than 50, though each dispensary permit holder may operate up to three locations.

Major multistate operators that currently hold licenses in Pennsylvania include Cresco Labs, Curaleaf Holdings, Jushi Holdings, Green Thumb Industries, PharmaCann, TerrAscend and Trulieve Cannabis.

But under a compromise bill approved by Pennsylvania’s General Assembly, all dispensary licensees would be allowed to cultivate cannabis.

And every grower without a dispensary would be able to operate up to three retail locations, The Patriot-News reported.

Hopeful applicants would still need to pay steep licensing fees, with dispensary permits costing $35,000, and grower/processor permits costing $210,000.