Hundreds seek licenses to grow or sell medical marijuana in Pa.

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HARRISBURG — Hundreds of applicants have asked for licenses to grow or sell medical marijuana in Pennsylvania, including dozens in the state’s southeastern corner, officials said Wednesday.


In their first accounting of the flood of applications, Health Department officials said they received more than 500 packages by the March 20 deadline, and have thus far sifted through 258 applications. Among those have been 31 applications to grow medical marijuana in Philadelphia or its surrounding suburbs. 

But officials wouldn’t release the names of applicants — or say the locations where they propose to grow or sell the drug. 


Still, the data suggests the frenzied interest in getting in on the ground floor of the potentially lucrative medical marijuana industry, which some advocates hope will be the first step toward broader legalization of the drug. 





The state has been moving swiftly to implement a law passed last year with support from both parties in the Republican-controlled Legislature. The law aims to supply cannabis to seriously ill patients who have any one of 17 qualifying ailments.

March 20 was the deadline for all materials for people vying for one of 12 initial grower licenses. The state also received applications for would-be operators seeking one of 27 permits that would allow up to 81 dispensaries, where prescriptions could be filled, across the state.

 The permit applications that are pending represent just the first phase of the bidding process. The state also is preparing to offer clinical registrant licenses, which would attach medical marijuana to existing hospitals that also serve as academic medical institutions.

That credential would allow eight academic medical centers to select investor partners to establish research, growing, and dispensary networks of their own. Health systems have been soliciting potential suitors for months.




It was an easy sell for the conservative legislature: Polling found that nearly 9 out of 10 Pennsylvanians approved of medical marijuana, which already is legal in some other states, including New Jersey. Also, the law prohibits the drug from being made available in dry leaf or plant form — only in pill, oil, gel, vapor or liquid forms.















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