Medical Marijuana Likely to be Available in PA by Mid-2018
Philadelphia area will receive the most dispensary licenses
On December 21, Pennsylvania officials announced that applications to grow, process, and dispense medical marijuana will become available on January 17, and the state will accept completed applications from February 20 through March 20. Secretary of Health Karen Murphy said she expects medical marijuana to become available for patients by early 2018. Medical marijuana was legalized in the state in April 2016. 
Murphy explained that the roll-out of the state’s medical marijuana will occur in phases. In the first phase, the state will issue 12 permits for growers/processors and up to 27 dispensaries.
Pennsylvania is broken up into 6 regions, and the locations for growers and dispensers were selected based on state medical data, comments from some 5,000 patients, and input from about 900 potential growers/processors and dispensaries.
The southeastern part of the state around Philadelphia will receive the most dispensary licenses – up to 10. Southwestern Pennsylvania, including Pittsburgh, will get up to 5 dispensary licenses. 
Murphy said the program is relying heavily on the guidance of doctors, who have been meeting regularly as part of a “physicians’ work group.” She added:
“They suggested that we develop specific training and dosing requirements for physicians and dispensaries, that we develop a robust, quality monitoring program, and that we have different approaches for physicians in rural and urban areas.” 
The state’s Office of Medical Marijuana currently has 8 employees, including a liaison who has already started meeting with patients. 
Medical marijuana will be permitted for use for 17 conditions. Before patients can access the medication, they must first obtain a recommendation from their doctor and a state-issued card. Under the law, marijuana can be used in pill, oil, vapor, ointment, or liquid form, but smokable forms are not allowed.  
Children were able to access medical cannabis shortly after it was legalized in Pennsylvania, thanks to the state’s “Safe Harbor” program, which allows parents of children with uncontrollable seizures to obtain the medication for their child. The state has also approved 134 applications for the program. 
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.