2018: The Year Pennsylvania Brings Medical Marijuana Sales

Pennsylvania officials said Wednesday that they will begin accepting applications early next year for medical marijuana growers and dispensaries, with a target date of mid-2018 for legal sales to begin in the state.

Philadelphia and six other southeastern counties could be home to up to 30 dispensaries, at least in the first phase of the medical marijuana program’s rollout.

Expect Over 900 Applications

Health Secretary Karen Murphy told reporters at a news conference Wednesday that firms can apply between Feb. 20 and March 20 to grow or sell the drug to patients with proper prescriptions. Health officials expect more than 900 applications.

 In the first phase, said Murphy, the department will issue license up to 12 growers and up to 81 locations for dispensing medical marijuana. Those are the ones expected to be up and running by mid-2018, she said.

The bill that passed the Republican-controlled legislature and signed by Democratic Gov. Wolf this past spring permits up to 150 dispensaries and 25 growers statewide.

In the first phase, health officials said, the southeastern region of the state will be allowed up to 30 dispensaries. That region includes Philadelphia, Montgomery, Bucks, Chester and Delaware counties.

Since medical marijuana was legalized in April, the Health Department has been granting so-called “safe harbor” status to parents and caregivers to obtain medical marijuana products from out-of-state for children who suffer from any of the 17 conditions for which the law allows the drug to be used.

Use by adults is not yet permitted.

Murphy said Wednesday that 134 safe harbor applications have been approved so far.