Flower Power: Pennsylvania Amends Medical-Marijuana Program

Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Advisory Board recently recommended adding the use of flower, or dried bud, to the state’s nascent medical pot program. On April 16, Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine approved the board’s recommendation.

“I’m ecstatic,” Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Daylin Leach, whose support was key to getting the state’s medical marijuana bill passed in 2016, told Freedom Leaf during the 2nd Annual World Medical Cannabis Conference & Expo from April 12-14 at the Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh. “Hopefully, we’ll have whole plant in the dispensaries in the next couple of months.”

Pennsylvania State Sen. Daylin Leach speaking at right.

The good news is cannabis flower will eventually be available in dispensaries that opened throughout the Keystone State earlier this year. The bad news is it will only be allowed for vaping purposes. According to Dr. Levine, smoking medical-grade marijuana would be a criminal offense. Currently, cannabis is available in Pennsylvania as a concentrated oil or tincture. “I really do think this is the right thing to do,” she stated. The health department has a 90-day comment period before it can effect changes in the program.

Levine also approved the board’s recommendation to add cancer remission therapy to the list of accepted conditions and changed the definition of chronic intractable pain. Leach would like to go further (such as including insomnia as a condition), but said he was “happy about this expansion.”

Patrick Nightingale speaking at Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg.

Patrick Nightingale, executive director of the Pennsylvania Medical Cannabis Society, agreed with Levine. “I fully expect the flower material will be approved for sale in our dispensaries,” he told Freedom Leaf during the conference. “Then our dispensaries will resemble medical dispensaries in other states where patients are able to select from a variety of actual cannabis strains. It’s critical that patients have greater variety and can dial up what works best for them.”

Both Nightingale and Leach were presenters at the World Medical Cannabis Conference & Expo, which offered workshops and courses and featured 125 exhibitors for the event’s 5,000 attendees.

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