Chester County Cannabis Overview

  1. Pennsylvania Cannabis
  2. Chester County Cannabis

Is Cannabis Cultivation Legal in Chester County?

It is legal to cultivate cannabis but only for medical purposes in the state of Pennsylvania, including Chester County. Medical cannabis growers are required to apply for a permit to be awarded by the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program under the state’s Department of Health (DOH). This program was created by Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act of 2016.

The DOH will only issue permits for a maximum of 25 medical cannabis growers statewide. Applicants are required to submit the following:

  • Proof of compliance with municipal zoning requirements
  • Proof of the capability to secure the growing facility from illegal activities
  • A diversity plan
  • Proof of capital worth $2 million of which $500,000 is deposited in a financial institution
  • Non-refundable initial fee of $10,000
  • Permit fee of $200,000, refundable if permit is not awarded

Once awarded a permit, a medical cannabis grower is required to take a two-hour training.

Licensed medical cannabis growers are also required to have an indoor enclosed facility for growing, harvesting, and storing medical marijuana seeds, immature plants, plants, and flowers. There must be clear signage for growing and non-growing areas.

The entire facility must be completely secure with only authorized persons allowed entry. All visitors must be escorted. Even the loading and unloading of plants, seeds, and flowers into vehicles must be out of sight of the public.

Is Cannabis Manufacturing Legal in Chester County?

It is legal to manufacture or process cannabis but only for medical purposes in the state of Pennsylvania, including Chester County. Processors are required to apply for a permit to be granted by the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program under the state’s DOH.

The DOH will only issue permits for a maximum of 25 medical cannabis processors statewide. The requirements for the application are the same as those of growers. Once awarded a permit, a medical cannabis processor is required to take a two-hour training.

An enclosed indoor facility for medical marijuana processing is required of licensed medical cannabis processors. They must provide clear signage for processing and non-processing areas. Only authorized persons are allowed entry and all visitors must be escorted. The entire facility must be shielded from public view, including the loading and unloading of medical marijuana products for transport. Security must be tight.

Is Cannabis Retail Legal in Chester County?

It is legal to sell cannabis by retail but only for medical purposes in the state of Pennsylvania, including Chester County. Medical cannabis dispensaries are required to apply for a permit to be granted by the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program under the state’s DOH.

The DOH will only issue permits for a maximum of 50 medical cannabis dispensaries statewide, each with a maximum of three locations. Applicants are required to submit the following:

  • A business plan describing the organization and its activities
  • Proof of compliance with municipal zoning requirements
  • Proof of the capability to secure the growing facility from illegal activities
  • A diversity plan
  • Proof of capital worth $150,000
  • Non-refundable initial fee of $5,000
  • Permit fee of $30,000, refundable if permit is not awarded

Once awarded a permit, a medical cannabis dispensary owner is required to take a two-hour training. Dispensaries are allowed to sell cannabis-infused pills, tinctures or liquids, oils, and topical ointments. No edibles are allowed. Vaporized cannabis is allowed but the DOH has prohibited the selling and use of more than 600 vaporized medical cannabis products that include additives without U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. Medical cannabis meant to be smoked is prohibited.

According to Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act of 2016, dispensaries are allowed to sell only up to a 30-day supply of medical cannabis at a time to a patient. This must be based on the prescription of a state-approved physician.

However, on March 6, 2020, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf issued a Proclamation of Disaster Emergency due to the Covid 19 pandemic. Because of that, the DOH announced temporary changes to the Medical Marijuana Program. This included an increase in the limit of medical cannabis dispensation per sale to a 90-day supply. The state-approved physician must, however, make an annotation on the certification authorization of the patient. This can be done online. The changes have been extended to last up to 20 November 2021.

Is Cannabis Delivery Legal in Chester County?

It is not legal to deliver medical cannabis in the state of Pennsylvania, including Chester County. Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act of 2016 indicates that medical marijuana can only be released within the dispensary.

The temporary changes in the Medical Marijuana Program due to the pandemic, however, allowed dispensary personnel to bring the purchased medical cannabis out to the medical marijuana cardholder waiting in their respective vehicles, provided that the vehicle is within the property of the dispensary. The effectivity of these changes was extended up to 20 November 2021.

How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Chester County

Residents of Pennsylvania diagnosed with the following conditions are eligible to join the Medical Marijuana Program to get a medical marijuana card:

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Anxiety
  • Autism
  • Cancer, including those in remission
  • Central nervous system damage
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders
  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Huntington’s Disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Intractable skeletal muscular spasticity
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Neurodegenerative diseases
  • Neuropathies
  • Opioid Use Disorder
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Severe chronic pain
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Terminal illness
  • Tourette Syndrome

Patients must first register online and get a patient identification number. Patients must then find a medical practitioner approved by the DOH who can diagnose their condition and provide a certification. There are 63 approved practitioners in Chester County. The patient is responsible for paying the doctor’s fees if the visit is not covered by health insurance.

The doctor will certify the patient’s condition in the online registry, after which the patient will receive an email with instructions on how to pay the $50 fee online. The fee may be waived for qualified individuals participating in Medicaid, CHIP, PACE/ PACENET, WIC, and SNAP. The medical marijuana card will be sent by mail and will be received approximately 14 days from the date of payment.

For patients who are minors or adult patients who need assistance, up to two caregivers are allowed. The caregivers must also register through the same portal. A background check is required for caregivers.

How Has Cannabis Legalization Impacted the Economy of Chester County?

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, there is no sales tax on the sale of medical cannabis to patients. There is, however, a 5% excise tax on the medical cannabis gross sales of growers or processors to dispensaries. There are also licensing fees charged to growers, processors, and dispensaries. These are received by the DOH.

Actual sales of medical cannabis began in February 2018. After a year, total sales amounted to $132 million. Growers and processors paid excise taxes of more than $2 million.

According to Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act of 2016, all taxes and fees from medical cannabis must go to the Medical Marijuana Program Fund. From that, 40% shall go to the operations and outreach projects of the Medical Marijuana Program, while 15% will be used to:

  • Provide medical marijuana to patients in financial hardship
  • Waive or reduce marijuana medical card fees for the financially needy
  • Reimburse the cost of background checks for caregivers in financial need

The DOH will receive 30% for research on the use of medical marijuana on serious illnesses currently included in the list for treatment, and for other serious illnesses not yet included.

The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs will receive 10% to be used in its drug abuse prevention program and related counseling and treatment services. The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency will receive 5% to be distributed to local police departments for use in any need related to the Act.

The Effects of Cannabis Legalization on Crime Rates in Chester County

According to information reported by the Chester County State Police on the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer, drug abuse violations increased from 512 in 2016 to 734 in 2019, the latest available data.

Arrests for drug possession increased from 466 in 2016 to 699 in 2019 but arrests for drug manufacturing or sale decreased from 46 in 2016 to 35 in 2019. Specifically for marijuana possession, arrests increased from 381 in 2016 to 598 in 2019. On the other hand, arrests for marijuana sales decreased slightly from 17 in 2016 to 16 in 2019. DUI arrests increased from 772 in 2016 to 915 in 2019.

Chester County Cannabis