This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — It could take up to two years to write regulations and make medical marijuana available through retailers in Pennsylvania to eligible patients, Pennsylvania's secretary of health said Wednesday.
Before that, the Department of Health aims to publish regulations in July to guide parents on how to bring medical marijuana bought legally from another state into Pennsylvania to administer to a child with a qualifying condition, Secretary of Health Dr. Karen Murphy said.
By the end of the year, the department expects to publish temporary regulations for growers and processors, Murphy said.
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation in April making Pennsylvania the 24th state to legalize a comprehensive medical marijuana program. The next day, the department got started on writing a raft of regulations, which are required before medical marijuana can be grown and sold in Pennsylvania.
Murphy said her agency is surveying other states for lessons learned and best practices developed while setting up programs there, and it is seeking input from people who will be involved in the process, including growers, processors and physicians.
Patients must receive a certification from a physician registered with the Department of Health and have a valid identification card issued by the department that includes their name, address and date of birth. A patient also must be diagnosed with one of 17 conditions spelled out in the law.
Murphy said she could not estimate how many people in Pennsylvania ultimately may qualify to use medical marijuana, because there is no registry for some of the conditions in the law. There is significant interest in joining the industry, Murphy said, noting that the department has fielded around 100 inquiries about becoming a grower or processor.
The Department is looking to hire a program director — it has received more than 120 applications for the $116,000-a-year job — and will eventually hire more epidemiologists, public health specialists and researchers, Murphy said.
Eventually, the department must write regulations to track plants, certify physicians and license growers, dispensaries and physicians. It must monitor the growth, transportation, possession, processing, testing and sale of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania.
It also must maintain a database of all patients approved to use it, create an identification card system for patients and require criminal background checks for owners and employees of growers, processors and dispensaries.
Patients would not be allowed to legally grow their own marijuana.
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.