Kevin Burkett

The Pennsylvania Health Department has released the draft regulations for the state’s medical marijuana program, expecting to begin accepting applications from would-be cultivators, processors, and dispensaries early next year, the Inquirer reports. Secretary of Health Karen Murphy said the department expects sales to begin in 2018.

Additionally, Murphy indicated that more than 100 parents and caregivers have been granted “safe harbor” letters that allow them to acquire medical cannabis from out-of-state sources for children suffering from a qualifying condition, but that no adults have been granted such permission.

The draft regulations include input from “nearly 1,000 comments” from community, industry and legislative members.

“This is a program we are starting from the ground up,” Murphy said in the report. “We feel this type of engagement is incredibly important for the integrity of the program.”

Under this version of the draft regulations, growers would be permitted to import seedlings during the program’s first 30 days, and the definition of person under the rules includes limited liability companies and corporations. Medical marijuana delivery personnel no longer have to hold a Pennsylvania drivers license, and the age to work in a grow house is reduced from 21 to 18.

The rules also divide the state into six geographical regions, up from three, for grow house and dispensary license distribution. The number of permits granted in a region will be determined based on a variety of factors, including population, number of potential patients and access to public transportation, and regions with economic development needs will get special consideration. In all, there would be 25 grower-processors and 50 dispensaries with three locations each permitted in the state.

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