The Medical Marijuana Act of 2016 of Pennsylvania legalized the cultivation of cannabis only for medical use in Dauphin County. To legally grow medical cannabis, companies must apply for a license with the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s (DOH) Medical Marijuana Program. Statewide, only 25 medical marijuana grower licenses will be granted. Licensees are then obligated to pass a two-hour training program.
Applicants must submit the following to qualify:
A plan for diversification
Proof of compliance with municipality zoning laws
Proof of the capability to protect the cultivation facility from illegal entry and activities
Documented total capital of $2 million, of which $500,000 is placed in a bank
$10,000 as payment for the non-refundable application fee
$200,000 as payment for the license fee, to be refunded if the application is denied
PA Code 1151.23 states that all medical cannabis must be grown indoors within the registered location of the licensed medical cannabis cultivation facility. It is legal for a licensed facility to cultivate, gather, and store both mature and young marijuana plants as well as the plant's flowers and seeds. Medical marijuana-related activities, such as loading and unloading from trucks, should always be carried out beyond the sight of the general public.
The entire facility needs to be well-secured. Only those who have been given permission to enter are permitted, and every visitor is required to be escorted at all times. Areas that are barred from access and those that are used for cultivation must be clearly marked with signage. Signs must not be smaller than 12 inches by 12 inches and must include letters that are at least six inches inch high.
Cannabis manufacturing was legalized in Dauphin County by Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act of 2016 but it is limited to the manufacturing of cannabis for medical use. To legally manufacture medical cannabis, companies must apply for a medical cannabis processor license with the state’s Medical Marijuana Program under the DOH. Throughout the state, only 25 of these licenses will be granted.
Applicants must submit the same requirements as those for medical marijuana grower license applications. License holders must then be trained in a two-hour course.
PA Code 1151.23 mandates that all licensed medicinal cannabis manufacturing facilities be indoors. Public viewing of any cannabis-related activities is prohibited, including loading and unloading of items from transporters.
Licensees who manufacture medical cannabis are responsible for maintaining the highest level of security on the premises. Entry is restricted to individuals with authorization, and access to particular areas within the facility has to be controlled. Signage must be clearly posted to identify processing and non-processing areas as well as sectors of the facility that demand the highest level of security. The signs must be at least 12 inches by 12 inches in size, and the letters must be at least half a foot tall. Visitors are always required to be escorted when they are permitted.
Cannabis retail was legalized in Dauphin County by the Medical Marijuana Act of 2016 of Pennsylvania but this is only limited to the sale of medical cannabis and medical cannabis products to patients and their caregivers who are all medical marijuana cardholders. To sell medical cannabis legally, companies must apply for a medical cannabis dispensary license with the DOH’s Medical Marijuana Program.
Across the state, only 50 medical cannabis dispensary licenses will be granted, with each one allowed to establish a maximum of three locations. Licensed retailers have to attend a two-hour training session.
Applicants are required to submit the following to qualify:
A business plan
A diversity plan
Proof of compliance with municipal zoning laws
Proof of the capability to protect the manufacturing facility from unlawful entry and activities
Documented $150,000 in total capital
$5,000 as payment for the non-refundable application fee
$30,000 as payment for the license fee, to be refunded if the application is denied
Medical marijuana and medical marijuana products, including liquids, oils, tinctures, extracts, cannabis-infused tablets, and ointments for topical use, may be sold by licensed dispensaries. They are also permitted to dispense medicinal cannabis that has been vaporized or for vaporization, with the exception of the 600 vaporized cannabis products that are listed on the DOH list of prohibited products. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the substances found in the prohibited goods for inhalation by humans. Medical marijuana cannot be purchased from dispensaries in edible form or as marijuana meant to be smoked.
Licensed dispensaries are only allowed to provide medical marijuana cardholders with a 30-day supply of cannabis at most, in accordance with the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act of 2016, depending on the patient's prescription. The dispensary is responsible for monitoring and confirming the patient's transactions through the online registry.
Due to the Covid pandemic, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced a Proclamation of Disaster Emergency on March 6, 2020. The Medical Marijuana Program was temporarily modified by the DOH as a result. It was necessary to extend the modification until November 20, 2021. Holders of medical cannabis cards were permitted during that period to purchase a maximum of a 90-day supply of their medical cannabis prescriptions from licensed dispensaries. However, the certification authority of the cardholder had to be annotated first by a state-approved medical expert.
Cannabis delivery is illegal in Dauphin County and the rest of Pennsylvania. The Medical Marijuana Act of 2016 limits the legal sale of medical cannabis to the indoor facilities of licensed medical cannabis dispensaries.
From March 6, 2020, to November 20, 2021, though, while the Medical Marijuana Program was under interim changes, curbside dispensing of medical cannabis was allowed. Medical marijuana cardholders had to be waiting in vehicles parked within the licensed dispensary’s facility and the dispensary employees were permitted to take their medical cannabis purchases out to them.
Residents of Dauphin County can apply for a medical marijuana card by first acquiring a patient identification number (PIN) through an online registration process. Once they have this, they must set an appointment for examination by a DOH-approved medical practitioner. From the list provided, 33 of the medical practitioners are in Dauphin County. Unless covered by health insurance, the applicant has to shoulder the cost.
The medical practitioner will determine if the applicant has any of the following qualifying medical conditions for the Medical Marijuana Program:
Sickle Cell Anemia
Severe Chronic Pain
Opioid Use Disorder
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Inflammatory bowel disease
Intractable skeletal muscular spasticity
Dyskinetic and Spastic Movement Disorders
Cancer, including those in remission
Central Nervous System Damage
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Using the patient's PIN, the doctor will validate the diagnosis in the online registry. The doctor must also indicate if the patient needs a caregiver. Two caregivers are allowed for each patient. The Medical Marijuana Program will conduct background checks on caregivers before their registration is approved.
The patient must await the email with instructions on how to pay the $50 application fee. Being beneficiaries of the following may exclude recipients from paying the fee:
PACE/PACENET prescription assistance
Pennsylvania Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
In about two weeks, the medical marijuana card will be mailed to approved patients.
The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue states that medical cannabis is not subject to sales tax. There is, however, a 5% excise tax on all sales of medical cannabis by licensed growers and processors to licensed dispensaries. The usual taxes that other businesses must pay based on their operations and business models, such as the gross receipts tax, corporate net income tax, personal income tax, and others, are also mandated for all marijuana-related businesses. Another source of state income from marijuana businesses is the licensing fees that medical marijuana growers, processors, and dispensaries pay to the DOH.
Medical marijuana started to be accessible for purchase in February 2018. After just one year, sales increased to $132 million. Excise duty on that was paid by growers and processors in the sum of $2 million.
The Medical Marijuana Act of 2016 in Pennsylvania mandates that all monies derived from medical marijuana taxes and fees be sent to the Medical Marijuana Program Fund. A total of 55% of these funds will go to the Medical Marijuana Program, of which 40% must go toward operating expenses and outreach programs and 15% must go to the following:
Providing free or significantly discounted medical marijuana as prescribed to indigent patients;
Providing free or substantially reduced medical marijuana card fees; and
Paying back the cost of background checks for indigent caregivers.
The DOH's research program on conditions that can be treatable with cannabis receives 30% of the money from medical marijuana. This might increase the number of ailments that potentially qualify for the program.
Ten percent of the remaining medical marijuana revenue is given to the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs to be used for its prevention, counseling, and treatment programs for drug abuse. The last 5% of medicinal marijuana revenue is distributed to local police agencies, including those in Dauphin County, by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency for any purpose allowed under the Medical Marijuana Act of 2016.
Cannabis was legalized in February 2018 in Dauphin County and the rest of Pennsylvania. The year before, in 2017, according to data from the Pennsylvania Bureau of Narcotics Investigation and Drug Control on the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer page, there were 29 arrests for drug abuse violations in Dauphin County but none were related to marijuana. In 2020, this increased to 35 arrests for drug abuse violations but still, none were related to marijuana.