Earlier this year, Pennsylvania enacted its Medical Marijuana Act, and had until this autumn to promulgate temporary regulations. Two sets of such regulations have been published, one set governing growers and producers, and the other involving dispensaries. These revised rules were promulgated after receiving nearly 1,000 comments from citizens across the state, as well as those involved in the medical marijuana business.
The newest regulations for dispensaries feature changes from a previously published version of the rules, the latter of which contained sections on taxation and conflicts of interest. Some highlights of the revised rules include the ability of growers to import cannabis seedlings during the first month of the program, the creation of three additional geographic regions (mainly for increasing the number of licenses available for dispensaries and growers), and limitations on the number of permits granted in each region. These limitations will be based on local population figures with a focus on the number of likely patients and their medical conditions, access to public transportation options, and a particular region’s economic history.
Interestingly, the term “person” in the rules includes non-natural persons like corporations, which means that companies will be able to obtain licenses to sell medical marijuana much like businesses now obtain liquor licenses. Moreover, the changes in the rules included a drop in the age requirement for grow-house employees from 21 to 18, and delivery personnel can have non-Pennsylvania driver’s licenses.
The revised rules further limit where dispensaries may be located: they must be at least 1,000 feet away from schools and day-cares, and cannot share commercial property space with other retailers (e.g., the dispensaries cannot operate in malls). While the rules allow for waivers of these location requirements, it remains to be seen how frequently such waivers will be issued. Currently, city planners are conferring with the Health Department about reducing the 1,000 foot barrier between dispensaries and schools to 500 feet.
One new change to the temporary rules for growers and producers includes a 30-day inventory import window. The previous version of the regulations only permitted growers to import seeds from out-of-state to jumpstart their inventories, but under the new regulations, growers can import both seeds and seedlings to increase their plant stock. Moreover, growers must now be equal opportunity employers, and medical marijuana program applicants who were turned away in other states may be able to obtain a permit in Pennsylvania. Another highlight in the new regulations is that the time growers and processors have to ramp up their operations rose from 60 to 90 days.
Medical marijuana is slated to hit the PA market in the latter half of 2018.