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April 18, 2018. Pennsylvania
Finally, Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis program is going to induct dry form of marijuana as a legal therapeutic substance. This Monday, the department of health has green-lighted the availability of dried flowers of whole-plant cannabis for MMJ patients in the state.
Experts are hoping that this move might lower the treatment costs for patients by improving the accessibility to therapeutic marijuana. Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program went operational in February with only MMJ oil and concentrates.
With the availability of dry form of medical cannabis from next month, the state will face a challenge to uphold one of its own MMJ provision i.e. to not consume medical cannabis by smoking. As per the administration’s own account, they are legalizing dried cannabis plant so patients can consume it through vaping. The existing laws oblige MMJ dispensaries to not put any product on sale that can be smoked. But with the availability of dried flower of cannabis, it seems like the MMJ laws are cancelling themselves.
Everyone knows that dried form of marijuana is mostly consumed through smoking. Even though the health secretary has categorically made it clear that smoking medical cannabis will remain illegal, but implementing this rule on the ground with the availability of dried cannabis can be quite challenging.
Some cannabis advocates are saying that after making dried form marijuana a part of MMJ program, it is irrational on local government’s part to still insist on continuing the smoking ban. Some also think that the continued ban on smoking MMJ is also against the intent which has derived this new reform. Consuming cannabis by vaporizing it needs costly paraphernalia and many need patients might not be able to afford it. On the other hand, consuming cannabis by smoking is the cheapest available option. It’s also a fact that smoking cannabis has more harming side effects than vaporizing it, but then every conventional medicine comes up with some given side effects.
Aside from making dried cannabis legal, the program has also been improved with some other amendments as well. We are enlisting all these amendments in Pennsylvania’s MMJ law here:
- List of qualifying medical conditions will be expanded
- Patients will only be required to pay for their MMJ IDs once a year
- Registered physicians, eligible to make MMJ recommendations, can maintain their anonymity in public records to protect themselves from federal prosecutions
- For minors, only qualified pediatric specialists can make MMJ recommendations
Cannabis advocate groups are applauding all these amendments in Pennsylvania’s MMJ program that are going into effect from next month. A legal representative of cannabis NGO, Marijuana Policy Project, says that the existing ban on dried form of marijuana led to shortages of MMJ products in the past.
Pennsylvania’s MMJ program is still couple of months old but there are already 30,000 registered patients. By making dried form of medical cannabis legal, the state can serve this continuously increasing number of MMJ patients in a better way.