Nearly half of all Pennsylvania dispensaries will begin selling medical marijuana in plant form on August 1, 2018. Others will follow suit by August 8, according to a press release from PA Governor Tom Wolf’s office, which states that 16 dispensaries will be expanded to 28 by next week.
Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program had initially mandated that patients would only have access to non-herbal cannabis preparations, such as infused oils, wax or pills. However, in April Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine Rachel Levine approved a unanimous recommendation by the state’s 11-member Medical Marijuana Advisory Board to permit sales of cannabis flowers.
“The dry leaf form of medical marijuana provides a cost-effective option for patients, in addition to the other forms of medication already available at dispensaries,” Dr. Levine said in a prepared statement.
Retail prices for medical cannabis products in Pennsylvania are among the most expensive in the nation.
Chris Visco, co-owner of TerraVida, said earlier this year that the plant form could cost half as much as other cannabis options because it is much easier to produce than oils or waxes.
The state’s Medical Marijuana Act of 2016 still does not allow smoking the plant, but patients can use a vaporizer. And now with the sale of the cannabis plant, there is nothing physically stopping a registered cannabis user from taking it home and smoking it.
Despite this policy change, Governor Wolf said Pennsylvania is not ready to legalize recreational cannabis use.
Patrick Nightingale, head of Pittsburgh’s chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), said patients should be aware of legal consequences if they decide to smoke their medical marijuana anywhere but in the privacy on their own homes. If caught by law enforcement with smoking devices, a person can be charged with a paraphernalia offense.