Pennsylvania Governor Wolf has signed Senate Bill 3 into law, making Pennsylvania the 24th
state to approve utilization of medical marijuana. Signature by the Governor sets in motion various processes aimed at achieving the overall goal of the legislation, permitting patients with serious medical conditions to access medical marijuana, but will not make usage of medical marijuana immediately available. The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) will now initiate the process of implementing a Medical Marijuana Program and has initiated a temporary rule-making process to meet the initial 6-month publication time-frame required under the statute and expects all rule-making to be completed within 18 months to 24 months. Once completed, patients under a physician’s care for numerous defined serious medical conditions will be permitted to purchase medical marijuana at any designated state dispensary. Pursuant to the legislation, the DOH will:
- Initiate their regulatory process to authorize and license up to 150 dispensaries across the state.
- Issue medical marijuana identification cards to all approved patients who have completed the required application and received a certification from their registered physician. However, the DOH has not yet completed plans on how to make the application process available nor have any specific timelines been released. It is thought that the applications may be completed thru a web-based system.
As Senate Bill 3 was crafted, our government affairs team successfully promoted a provision in the bill exempting insurance companies and employers from reimbursement requirements for medical marijuana. We continue to monitor of the development of policies addressing medical marijuana, remaining sensitive to the continued exploration of and advances in pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic therapies necessary to relieve pain and successfully treat injured workers. For additional information or questions regarding this or other legislative and regulatory matters, please contact Brian Allen, Vice President of Government Affairs, at 801-230-8379 or via email at Brian.Allen@optum.com.
Link to Senate Bill 3: