Pennsylvania seems to have forgotten its cannabis roots with the cautious approach the state is taking towards its medical marijuana program. William Penn, the man that American history states founded Pennsylvania, became a vital voice in Pennsylvania’s original outlook on cannabis.
Back in 1619, it was known as the “hemp state.” Yes, it was William Penn that gave way to the General Assembly passing the first law encouraging farmers to grow hemp and position the crop as a major commodity within the trade. It took over 300 years for cultivation to come back to the state.
On April 17, 2016, Governor Tom Wolf signed into law SB3, of the Pennsylvania Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, which did not fully go into effect until May 17, 2016. The first medical marijuana dispensary in the state opened last month in Bethlehem, PA called Keystone Canna Remedies and Pittsburgh opened its first dispensary CY+ last week. Cure Pennsylvania is planned to open on March 7 in Lancaster County. A total of 12 companies will be able to grow and process medical marijuana with a vision of having a total of 25 in the near future. As of now, eight dispensaries have been approved and 10 growers/processors have begun operations.
“Each week, we are making great strides in expanding our network where patients will be able to get medical marijuana,” Governor Wolf said. “The approval of two more dispensaries is another positive step forward. Work continues to move patients one step closer to having medical marijuana as a tool to help with their medical condition.” According to Marijuana Business Daily estimates, the state’s dispensary sales could exceed $100 million annually a few years after the program launches.
Still, only 16,600 patients have registered to receive medical marijuana cards and 3,800 patients were certified by a physician. The physicians seem even less enthused. Take the process of registering qualified and actively licensed physicians for instinct, with a total of 57,670 active physicians statewide, to date, 701 have registered and of those, 355 have completed the training to become certified practitioners.
Now with Pennsylvania equipped to provide a service that not only helps the health of its residents but also creates a federal and state stream of taxable income that has yet to be matched by any other current commodity.
So the question that comes to mind, why are current northern American physicians so reluctant to jump into the medical lane of marijuana? Is there a cultural stigma holding these physicians back or is it a lack of education and marketing tools that can expose the future benefits of this sector of medicine? Will Pennsylvania have the same dilemma that New York had when it came to registering physicians or will the years ahead just show the solutions and strategies it took for Pennsylvania to overstep these current state structural and psychological barriers?
Back in 1683, Lancaster County in Pennsylvania was known to locals and most outsiders as the “hempest place to be” and with licenses being awarded for growers and processors to produce oil, pills, and tinctures. Counties like Lancaster seemed to have embraced those roots and is allowing out of state companies like Bay LLC to utilize and convert old 1970, brink and mortar stores like the Kmart on 890 Fruitville Pike in Manheim Township into 125,000 square feet of a modern-day dispensary.
I was thinking the process towards anything always has a beginning and an end. The thought of when and what to start and the notion of where and how to end it is a guarantee. So unlike many other states, Pennsylvania is a newcomer in this new booming cultural and economic class of cannabis, but with a commonly known and influential past.
Pennsylvania will slowly but surely makes its way into the headlines of the cannabis class going forward. I think its safe to say, that the state of Pennsylvania has a huge upside when it comes to the awareness and educational factors that help maximize the use and perception of cannabis within the framework of their local northeastern American economy. The medical sideline of Pennsylvania is leading the way back to making cannabis a common component in the wealth and health of its state.