Pennsylvania poised to legalize medical marijuana

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The Pennsylvania House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a medical marijuana legalization bill late Wednesday afternoon, greatly increasing the chances that the state will green-light the use and sale of MMJ.

The bill cleared the House by a 149-43 vote. It must now return to where it started in the state Senate, which could take it up as early as Monday.

The Senate passed its version of the bill by a 40-7 vote last May, but it’s not clear how members feel about the amended version passed by the House. Gov. Tom Wolf has urged the legislature repeatedly to legalize MMJ, which means if the Senate concurs on the measure, it’s basically a done deal.

The bill would create a sizable medical cannabis market and pave the way for numerous business opportunities.

The measure would allow 17 approved medical conditions for MMJ cards, including severe chronic or intractable pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.

It would still be illegal to smoke MMJ or to make edibles, as the only allowable forms of cannabis would be pills, oils, topicals, tinctures, liquids, dried leaf and plants.

Other highlights:

  • The program would initially allow for 25 growers/processor licenses and 50 dispensary licenses. A dispensary could provide medical cannabis at up to three different locations.
  • An individual could have up to five dispensary licenses and no more than one grower/processor license.
  • Up to five growers/processors could also be registered as dispensaries, and the number of licenses could be expanded in the future.

For growers/processors, application fees would be $10,000, while licenses would cost $200,000 and would be good for one year. Renewal fees would cost $10,000.

Applicants would also need to prove that they have $2 million in capital, including $500,000 that would need to be on deposit in a financial institution.

Dispensary application fees would run $5,000, while dispensary licenses would cost $30,000 and be good for one year. Renewal fees would cost $5,000.

Applicants would also need to show that they have $150,000 of capital on deposit in a bank.