Pennsylvania already had a somewhat workable medical marijuana program. It allowed patients to use cannabis-derived concentrates, oils, tinctures, and pills, and it could be recommended for a relatively diverse list of qualifying conditions including cancer or PTSD. But now the state’s Health Secretary says that they’re going to add flower into the mix.
That’s good news for a lot of reasons. For one things, concentrates serve all kinds of purposes, but you can lose what some folks call the “entourage effect,” whereby cannabis loses some of its health benefits by isolating certain chemical components from others during the extraction process. There’s also general preference the particular high and sensation of using cannabis flowers as opposed to ingesting it in other forms. And then, as Herb pointed out recently, there’s also the cost issue. Because cannabis flower saves the manpower required to manufacture concentrates, it’s a lot cheaper to produce and therefore patients can fetch it for as little as half the cost in the marketplace.
But here’s the weird part: though cannabis flower will be legal, smoking cannabis flower will not. Patients will still (if they want to be truly legal) have to vaporize their flower, which is pretty silly by any standard. It would be like legalizing beer but saying you had to drink it through a garden hose straw.
Health Secretary Rachel Levine says legal cannabis flower will go live in Pennsylvania this summer. The expansion of the market could cause some growing pains for the industry. Herb noted that when the state opened its dispensary doors for the first time in March, it only took two weeks for them to run out of product.
Pennsylvania’s MMJ program is proving flexible in other ways too. Levine says that opiate addiction will also be added to the list of qualifying conditions. Also, doctors who issue medical marijuana recommendations will no longer be required to list their patients’ names on a public registry. The program is currently 30,000 patients strong.