Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Permit Applications Now Live, Deadline to Submit is May 17

Earlier today, the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH), Office of Medical Marijuana (OMM), which oversees the Commonwealth’s medical marijuana program, initiated phase II of its licensing process. OMM is now accepting applications for grower/processor permits and dispensary permits. Applications may be submitted between April 5, 2018 and May 17, 2018. OMM is also accepting applications for certification of Academic Clinical Research Centers (ACRC), which must be submitted by May 3, 2018.

OMM is expected to issue 13 additional grower/processor permits and 23 additional dispensary permits in phase II, which will bring the total number of permits to 25 growers/processors and 50 dispensaries. In June 2017, in phase I, the Commonwealth issued 12 grower/processor permits and 27 dispensary permits. Each dispensary may have no more than three separate locations (i.e., 150 total dispensaries are authorized under law).

By way of background, on April 17, 2016, Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law SB 3, a law to establish the Commonwealth’s medical marijuana program. Under the law, the term “medical marijuana” refers to marijuana obtained for a certified medical use by a Pennsylvania resident with a “serious medical condition” and is limited by statute in Pennsylvania to the following forms:

  • Pills;
  • Oils;
  • Topical forms, including gels, creams, or ointments;
  • Forms medically appropriate for administration by vaporization or nebulization, excluding dry leaf or plant form (i.e., flower is not allowed);
  • Tinctures; and
  • Liquids.

SB 3 defines a “serious medical condition” as any one of the following: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS); Autism; Cancer; Crohn’s Disease; damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity; Epilepsy; Glaucoma; HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)/AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome); Huntington’s Disease; Inflammatory Bowel Disease; Intractable Seizures; Multiple Sclerosis; Neuropathies; Parkinson’s Disease; Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); severe chronic or intractable pain of neuropathic origin or severe chronic or intractable pain in which conventional therapeutic intervention and opiate therapy is contraindicated or ineffective; and Sickle Cell Anemia.

Under the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act, patients who are residents of the Commonwealth, who have a serious medical condition as certified by a physician, and who have a validly-issued permit from DOH will be able to obtain medical marijuana at OMM-licensed dispensaries. A “caregiver” who is designated by the patient and is registered with DOH will be able to obtain medical marijuana from an OMM-licensed dispensary in order for the caregiver to deliver medical marijuana to the patient.

Here are some things prospective licensees need to know before applying:

  • Regions: The Commonwealth is divided into six Medical Marijuana Regions (MMR).  A map of the MMRs is available here
  • Licensing by Region: DOH intends to issue one grower/processor permit to the highest-scoring, most qualified, and eligible applicant without regard to location. For the remaining 12 grower/processor permits, DOH intends to issue up to two grower/processor permits in each of the six MMRs. With regard to dispensary permits, DOH intends to issue up to 23 permits in the following regions:

  • Dispensary Permit and Location(s): The primary dispensary region may be in any county within the MMR. An applicant has the option of listing two additional dispensary locations on the permit application for approval but is not required to do so. The second and third dispensary must be within the same MMR as the primary dispensary location. However, the second and third dispensary locations are not permitted to be in the same county as the primary dispensary location. In addition, the second and third dispensary locations are not permitted to be in the same county as one another.
  • Grower/Processor Fees and Proof of Capital:
    • Initial application fee: $10,000.
    • Initial permit fee: $200,000.
    • Proof of $2 million in capital ($500,000 of which must be on deposit in a financial institution).
  • Dispensary Fees and Proof of Capital:
    • Initial application fee: $5,000.
    • Initial permit fee: $30,000 per dispensary location identified in the application, up to $90,000.
    • Proof of $150,000 in capital.
  • ACRC Applications:
    • An ACRC must be an accredited medical school within the Commonwealth that operates or partners with an acute care hospital licensed and operating in the Commonwealth.
    • ACRC applicants are not subject to the application fees and capital requirements that apply to grower/processor and dispensary applicants, and there is no limit to the number of ACRC certifications to be issued.
    • Once approved by DOH, ACRCs may contract with approved clinical registrants.
  • Application Timetable:
    • April 5, 2018: permit applications, attachments, and instructions are available on the OMM Website.
    • May 3, 2018:  the latest date DOH will accept ACRC applications.
    • May 17, 2018: the latest date DOH will accept permit application packages.
  • Resources:
    • The grower/processor permit application is available here.
    • The dispensary permit application is available here.
    • The ACRC application is available here.
    • Application instructions, including scoring rubrics, are available here.

Given the relatively quick turnaround time for permit applications and certification applications, prospective applicants should, in very short order, review the applications and instructions in detail and start to gather the required supporting information (e.g. fingerprints of grower/processor and dispensary principals, financial backers, operators, and employees), if they have not already done so. 

If you have any questions regarding an issue raised in this alert, or if you are interested in submitting a medical marijuana grower/processor or dispensary permit application or ACRC certification application in Pennsylvania, please contact one of the authors or the attorney at the firm with whom you are in regular contact.

Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP attorneys counsel state cannabis license applicants and awardees, ancillary service and product providers, investors, management companies, and various other entities that are affected by federal and state marijuana laws, such as higher education institutions and long-term care facilities. For more information, please visit our Cannabis Law practice website here.

DISCLAIMER: Per federal law, marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance. This means that it is a federal crime to sell, distribute, possess, and/or use marijuana or marijuana-derived products, regardless of any state law that may authorize certain marijuana activity. Although federal policy may, at times, recommend enforcement discretion when a business or individual is in compliance with state marijuana law that is deemed to comply with federal enforcement priorities, it is important to understand that compliance with state law does not equal compliance with federal law, and that federal marijuana policy may change at any time. No legal advice we give regarding marijuana law or policy is ever intended to guide or assist clients in violating federal law.