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Pennsylvania Judge Stalls Health Department Plan to Issue Additional MMJ Licenses for Research

A Pennsylvania judge has issued a preliminary junction against the Health Department’s plan to hand out additional licenses to cannabis growers and dispensaries that would partner for research with medical schools, the Associated Press reports. The case against the agency was brought by other licensed dispensaries in the state.

The judge ruled that the research provisions go beyond the scope of the law. In the ruling, Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough said the “regulations appear to be inconsistent with the legislative intent of Chapter 20, which was to permit distribution of medical marijuana for purposes of and in conjunction with research studies conducted jointly” with medical schools.

The Health Department is considering its options to challenge the ruling.

“Research is a vital component of Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program to improve treatment options for patients suffering from serious medical conditions, including opioid-use disorder. The research program was rolled out in consultation with the sponsors of the original legislation and our approach was meant to ensure lower costs, more accessibility and ground-breaking treatments.” – Department of Health spokeswoman April Hutcheson, to the AP

The plaintiffs’ attorney, Judith Cassel, says that her clients are not opposed to the research but the “clinical registrants” should be doing research exclusively.

“We are happy that the court saw fit to provide a preliminary injunction so that a careful review could be done on the regulations. And hopefully, in the end, the regulations will better reflect the act.” – Cassel to the AP

McCullough said that the Legislature did intend for clinical registrants “to exist exclusively for research purposes.”

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