Cannabis cultivation is legal in Montgomery County but with certain notable limitations. The Medical Marijuana Act enacted in 2016 legalized the cultivation of marijuana in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Act permits the cultivation of marijuana for medical and research purposes. The recreational use of marijuana is prohibited in the state. Pennsylvania also prohibits home cultivation of marijuana even for medical purposes.
The Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act provides for 25 grower/processor permits in the state. The Act also provides for the registration of eight clinical registrants for research purposes. A clinical registrant can apply for a grower/processor or dispensary permit. Clinical registrants must collaborate with approved academic clinical research centers studying the therapeutic effects of cannabis. The Act authorizes the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) to administer the medical marijuana program in the state. The Department of Health divides the state into six medical marijuana regions as stipulated by the Act and awards permits to successful applicants in different phases. Montgomery County is in Region 1 Southeast.
Montgomery County does not have a local ordinance regulating the cultivation of marijuana. An intending cannabis grower in Montgomery County must obtain a Region 1 Southeast grower/processor permit. However, the Department has issued all 25 grower/processor and eight clinical registrant permits available. Currently, there are no grower/processor permit holders in Montgomery County according to the list maintained by the Department for Phase I and Phase II grower/processor permit application phases. However, there is one clinical registrant with a grower/processor permit in the county.
Per the Medical Marijuana Act, the manufacturing of cannabis products is legal in Montgomery County. The grower/processor permit allows for the manufacturing, drying, processing, and labeling of cannabis products intended for medical use. Grower/processor permit holders can sell cannabis products to other grower/processor permit holders or dispensaries.
Cannabis retail is legal for medical purposes in Montgomery County. The Medical Marijuana Act permits dispensaries to sell cannabis to medical marijuana patients and caregivers. The Act limits dispensary allocations in the Commonwealth to 50 permits. Each dispensary can sell medical marijuana products in three locations within their designated region. These can sell medical marijuana as pills, oils, gels, ointments, creams, tinctures, and liquids. However, these dispensaries can only sell cannabis to patients in the forms prescribed by their physicians. Section 301 of the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act prohibits the smoking of marijuana and marijuana products by medical marijuana patients. The Act, however, allows dispensaries to sell edible marijuana products in the county.
Montgomery County does not have an ordinance regulating medical marijuana dispensaries. The dispensaries list published by the Department of Health shows that there are registered medical marijuana dispensaries operating in Montgomery County. The county also has clinical registrants with dispensary permits. The DOH is not currently accepting new applications for marijuana dispensaries.
Delivery of medical marijuana products to residences is illegal in Montgomery County. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, Section 801 of the Medical Marijuana Act was amended to permit curbside delivery of medical marijuana to medical marijuana cardholders.
A person interested in obtaining a medical marijuana card in Montgomery County must be registered on the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program (MMP) administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Applicants must register for the program through the Medical Marijuana Program Registry (MMPR). They must have Pennsylvania driver’s licenses or ID cards issued by the Department of Transportation to register on the MMPR. After registering, applicants must be diagnosed by approved physicians to be living with any of the qualifying medical conditions recognized for cannabis therapy in the state. Applicants can find approved physicians practicing in Montgomery County on the DOH website. The qualifying medical conditions for medical marijuana in Pennsylvania are:
An applicant can designate up to two caregivers to assist in getting medical marijuana. Applicants under the age of 18 are required to have caregivers and these individuals must also register with the state’s medical marijuana program.
Applicants certified to receive medical marijuana therapies by their physicians will receive emails with instructions on paying for and completing their registrations. The annual cost for a Pennsylvania medical marijuana ID card is $50. Patients enrolled in other Pennsylvania programs such as SNAP, WIC, Medicaid, CHIP, and PACE may be eligible for fee reductions. The MMP will send medical marijuana identification cards to successful applicants within 21 days.
Chapter 9 of the Medical Marijuana Act imposes a 5% tax on grower/processor permit holders. The Montgomery County Annual Financial Reports did not indicate revenue from marijuana sales or production. Therefore, it is difficult to determine the impact of cannabis on the economy of Montgomery County.
The Montgomery County Detective Bureau (MCDD) submits crime data to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The data submitted showed five marijuana possession arrests and three marijuana sales arrests in 2015. In 2016, when the medical marijuana law was enacted, there were seven marijuana possession arrests and two marijuana sales arrests. In 2018, there were five marijuana possession arrests and one marijuana sales arrest. The Montgomery County Detective Bureau did not submit arrest records for 2019 and 2020.
It is clear from the marijuana-related arrest figures submitted by the MCDD from 2015 to 2018 that the legalization of marijuana in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania did not affect crime rates in Montgomery County. On the other hand, marijuana-related arrest figures remained low in the county.