Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania: Latest Updates
Children in Pennsylvania now have access to medical cannabis
In April of this year (2016), medical marijuana became legal in Pennsylvania, and lawmakers said children would get the first crack at obtaining the medication. Let’s take a look at recent developments.
Medical Marijuana “Roadmap” Released for Entrepreneurs
On August 18, Pennsylvania released a draft of the rules for all would-be marijuana growers and processors to follow in order to receive and hang onto 1 of 25 permits. 
The 90 pages of draft regulations define how marijuana should be cultivated, protected, and tracked in the state.
Patrick Nightingale, a former Allegheny County prosecutor who is now executive director of the Pennsylvania Medical Cannabis Society, said of the draft regulations:
“They’ve given us a pretty clear roadmap of what they consider important.”
Some of the draft rules include:
- Out-of-state marijuana plants may not be brought into Pennsylvania at any time. Growers will have 30 days to import seeds for their first crops, but all future crops must be grown with seeds, clones, or grafts produced at Pennsylvania facilities.
- Pests, insects, and fungi will be controlled using natural essential oils and other organic materials.
- Public officials and state employees will not be permitted have any financial stakes in a medical marijuana operation. Additionally, they will not be allowed to work in the medical marijuana industry for a year after they leave government employment.
- Growers and processors will be able to transfer their permits to another entity if approved by the state. The location of a growing or processing facility also can be changed with state approval.
- The state Department of Health must promote racial diversity and make certain opportunities are available for minority owners, employees, and contractors within the industry. Each business must develop its own diversity plan.
The new proposals were applauded by business interests and marijuana advocates alike. Michael Bronstein, the Philadelphia based cofounder of the American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp, said:
“For a first draft, this is really well thought out. These regulations take into account what other states have done successfully and what other states would have liked to have done better, but the Pennsylvania program is its own animal.”
Chris Goldstein, an activist and Philly.com columnist, said the rules would create one of the most diversity-friendly programs in the country. Said Goldstein:
“But the reality is that black business owners, just like everyone else, would still have to have millions in the bank to qualify for a permit.”
Draft regulations governing dispensaries are likely to be released before the close of 2016.
Kids can now get Medical Marijuana
John Collins, the newly named Director of Medical Marijuana, and the Department of Health says that 53 kids now have access to medical marijuana, thanks to the Safe Harbor Act, which allows patients to get cannabis from other states.
Other Pennsylvanians who qualify will have to wait until the program is enacted in 2018. 
Ten more Safe Harbor Letters are currently being processed. The letters allow parents, guardians, and spouses of minors under 18 with serious medical conditions to obtain and administer medical marijuana. 
Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.