Pennsylvania Becomes Latest State to Legalize Medical Marijuana

After being volleyed back and forth between Pennsylvania’s House and Senate for amendments, a comprehensive medical marijuana bill has been signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed SB 3 into law on Sunday, making Pennsylvania the 24th state to adopt comprehensive medical marijuana legislation. The bill establishes a statewide medical marijuana program and allows citizens that have been certified by a doctor to purchase marijuana from a dispensary.

“I am proud and excited to sign this bill that will provide long overdue medical relief to patients and families who could benefit from this treatment,” Governor Wolf said in a statement on Wednesday. “I applaud members of both parties in the House and Senate who have come together to help patients who have run out of medical options and want to thank the thousands of advocates who have fought tirelessly for this cause. I have met with patients and families, held roundtables, and urged action on this legislation since taking office, and it is encouraging that the hard work of these families has resulted in historic legislation.”

The journey toward passing the bill was somewhat arduous, as it bounced back and forth between the state’s House and Senate over “technical” adjustments that were necessary to ensure the program runs glitch free. Earlier versions of the bill didn’t clarify whether patients would still be able to continue taking medical marijuana if their medical professional lost his license or whether patients are allowed to purchase more than one 60-day supply of medical marijuana at a time. There was concern that the House wouldn’t approve the bill after the Senate amended it. Two years ago, the Senate passed the same bill, but it sat stagnant once it got to the House.

However, this time around the House was overwhelmingly in support of the bill, with 149 representatives voting for it and 46 against.

SB 3 approves over a dozen conditions for which a certified physician could recommend medical marijuana. These conditions include cancerepilepsyautismpost-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)sickle cell anemiaParkinson’s diseasemultiple sclerosisAIDSglaucoma, and chronic or intractable pain. Patients will be permitted to purchase cannabis in the form of a pill, oil, tincture, liquid, topical, vaporization, and nebulization. The bill prohibits the sale or distribution of marijuana in dry leaf form and prohibits smoking.

In addition, the bill allows as many as 25 growers and processors and 50 dispensaries to become licensed. Cannabis will initially be imported from other states, but the intention is to eventually have growing and processing handled in Pennsylvania. A 5 percent tax will be imposed on gross receipts, with 30 percent of revenue going to medical marijuana research. Money will also go to underwrite the regulation of the industry, as well as to law enforcement, addiction control, and to provide financial aid to medical marijuana patients.

It is expected to take two years before regulations are adopted and patients can purchase cannabis. A provision included in the passed bill, however, allows Pennsylvanians to purchase medical marijuana in another state.

Recently, a whopping 90 percent of Pennsylvania voters indicated they were in support of legalizing medical marijuana, according to an October 2015 poll by Quinnipiac University. Legalization will bring countless benefits to the state of Pennsylvania, including tax revenue and licensing fees. The Pennsylvania State Appropriations Committee has estimated that legalizing medical marijuana would create an industry worth an estimated $333 to $665 million per year, generating about $20 to $50 million every year for the state.