Medical Marijuana One-Year Anniversary Celebrates People and Progress

By: Sara J. Goulet, Deputy Press Secretary

April 17, 2017

It’s been exactly one year since Governor Tom Wolf signed legislation that legalized medical marijuana in Pennsylvania.

By all accounts, since that day, the steps taking place to implement a medical marijuana system are progressing as planned and with positive effects already evident.

The legislation in Pennsylvania happened because Governor Wolf and the General Assembly worked together, tirelessly and with the support and effort of passionate advocates across the state, to deliver the law. But efforts didn’t stop there. These groups continue their work in support of implementation efforts.

Pennsylvania, according to one industry consultant is “on track to set the standard for comprehensive medical marijuana programs.”

The Department of Health and its Medical Marijuana office have been working on the complex implementation steps, moving forward methodically and with a clear end-goal in mind: Successful implementation 18 to 24 months after Senate Bill 3 became law.

Since April 17, 2016, the Department of Health has:

  • Completed the Safe Harbor temporary guidelines and Safe Harbor Letter application process, as well as approved 226 applications;
  • Completed temporary regulations for growers/processors, dispensaries and laboratories, which have appeared in the Pennsylvania Bulletin;
  • Released Phase 1 permit applications for grower/processors and dispensaries;
  • Developed the Medical Marijuana Physician Workgroup;
  • Developed the Medical Marijuana Physician Workgroup;
  • Released a Request for Quotations for Electronic Tracking IT solutions for the tracking of medical marijuana;
  • Drafted temporary regulations for practitioners to participate in the program.

But legislation is more than programmatic and never more so than when people are the prime audience of its principled implementation.

For parent Shalawn, whose son Jerrick has sickle cell anemia, medical marijuana has “opened up doors… offered possibility. Something that wasn’t there before and that is life-changing.”

Life-changing because children like Jerrick and thousands more in Pennsylvania can obtain safe harbor letters, allowing parents, guardians, and caregivers of minors with a serious medical condition to possess medical marijuana now, before the law is fully implemented, without fear of criminal retribution. Safe harbor was one of the first steps taken to implement medical marijuana and with hundreds of safe harbor letters already approved, is making a life-changing difference.

For eight-year-old Anna, whose mom Lolly is the Department of Health’s medical marijuana patient advocate, safe harbor and medical marijuana mean no more seizures. None. Anna was previously plagued by up to 100 a day.

The stories of the life-changing possibilities extend beyond children. Dan, a 45-year-old brain cancer survivor, is now able to use medical marijuana to ease his severe anxiety, creating, in his words, “a much better lifestyle.”

Today, Pennsylvania celebrates legal medical marijuana and the legislators, advocates, families and friends who worked to pass this legislation that is life-changing for some today and for many more in the not-too-distant future.

As work continues over the next year to fully implement the medical marijuana system in Pennsylvania, Governor Wolf and his administration are committed to staying on track to implement a system that sets the standard for comprehensive medical marijuana programs.


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