Medical Marijuana

Mark / Flickr

Pennsylvania officials are making progress on rules to govern the state's new medical marijuana program, including how dispensaries will operate and the fees paid by growers and processors.  

The Department of Health on Tuesday posted draft regulations for dispensaries .

They'd prohibit facilities within 1,000 feet of schools or day care centers and require visitors to be notified they're under constant video surveillance.

Employees would be required to be at least 18 years old.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

When 15-year-old Ryan Briggs’ teacher, Nicole Wadsworth, comes to his house once a week, they work on the same skill he’s been trying to master for the last decade: pulling small plastic pegs out of a foam pegboard.

Flickr user Peter Lynch

Pennsylvania is still more than a year away from having its medical marijuana system up and running, but local physicians are already thinking about how they will prescribe the drug.

Pennsylvania Department of Health


Pennsylvania's medical marijuana program has a new director.

Gov. Tom Wolf's administration introduced John Collins on Thursday as head of the state Office of Medical Marijuana.

Collins, who joined the state's health department in April as assistant administrator in the Division of HIV Disease, will oversee the state's newly minted program, including cultivation and distribution regulations. He starts on Monday.

  Health Secretary Karen Murphy has said the regulations should be fully in place by early 2018, but that's subject to change.

Governor Tom Wolf / Flickr

The state is making strides on developing its new medical marijuana program.

Secretary of Health Karen Murphy said, since the commonwealth’s legalization of medical marijuana in April, her department has been working constantly to build the program.

Mark / flickr

Since Pennsylvania legalized medical marijuana in April, many have wanted to tap into the industry. United States Cannabis Pharmaceutical Research and Development CEO Michael Patterson says while officials develop policies over the next couple years, interested businesses and individuals should begin to familiarize themselves with the Commonwealth’s cannabis laws so they can cash in when the time comes.

Brett Levin / Flickr


Medical marijuana is legal in Pennsylvania, but a lot of regulations have to be implemented before the system is completely set up. Parents who want to help their children with serious illnesses are the first priority for the state Health Department.

Health Secretary Dr. Karen Murphy says temporary rules for out-of-state purchases will be ready by next month.

Parents will be allowed to bring medical marijuana back to Pennsylvania if their child has one of 17 serious medical conditions.

Cannabis Pictures / Flickr

It could take up to 24 months for the state of Pennsylvania to set up a system for regulating and dispensing medical marijuana. In the meantime, patients who want to use cannabis as medicine do so at their own risk, according to researchers studying the issue.

Marcel Bonn-Miller is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and is currently studying how cannabis use affects people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation Sunday to legalize medical marijuana in Pennsylvania, ending a nearly two-year effort to approve use of the drug. 

Pennsylvania is now the 24th state to make it legal.

Dr. Loren Robinson, Deputy Secretary for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, said it will take up to 24 months to implement the program.

“This includes the process of finding and setting up the growers and distributors, setting up dispensaries and identifying and certifying patients and providers in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Robinson said.


Pennsylvania is now officially the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana.  Following an arduous legislative battle, Governor Tom Wolf signed the Medical Marijuana Act Sunday, which will take effect in 30 days. 

Representative Dan Frankel of Allegheny County has been a longtime supporter of the measure.  He says an engaged governor and emotional advocacy from families of children struggling with chronic illnesses were both imperative in passing this legislation.

Governor Tom Wolf / Flickr


Senate backers hope medical marijuana legislation in Pennsylvania will get to Gov. Tom Wolf's desk this week.

A Senate committee made changes to the bill Monday, and the bill's backers say they hope it can win passage in the House and Senate this week.

For Medical Marijuana Bill, An Unexpected Lull

Mar 28, 2016
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

A plan to allow medical marijuana in Pennsylvania may be further away from becoming law than supporters had hoped.

The legalization plan is before the Senate, after passing the House overwhelmingly two weeks ago. But key Senate supporters told last week that the House made changes to the proposal that could prove to be problematic.

In Key Vote, Medical Marijuana Passes House

Mar 17, 2016
Governor Tom Wolf / Flickr

A plan to allow certain forms of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania has cleared a major hurdle, passing the state House and now heading to the Senate, where a similar proposal was approved last year.

Why One Doctor Changed His Mind On Medical Marijuana

Mar 15, 2016
Neeta Lind / flickr

Members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives will vote this week on a proposal to make medical cannabis legal in the Commonwealth. The bill, which has already passed in the Senate, would allow for people suffering from certain conditions, such as epilepsy or glaucoma, to receive marijuana as a treatment. Dr. David Casarett is a professor of medicine with the University of Pennsylvania Health System. He's written a book called Stoned: A Doctor's Case for Medical Marijuana, in which he chronicles how he changed his mind on the issue.

Pennsylvania Lawmakers To Take Up Medical Marijuana Proposal

Mar 14, 2016
Brett Levin / Flickr


A proposal to allow marijuana to be prescribed for a list of medical conditions is heading to the Pennsylvania House floor, where it could face changes before a final vote.

The House planned to take up more than 220 amendments to the bill on Monday, and it could be Wednesday or later before the chamber decides whether to approve the legislation.

Brett Levin / Flickr


Late last year, The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced it was easing requirements for FDA-approved clinical trials of cannabis. 

David Trawin / Flickr

  The Pennsylvania Medical Society won’t support medicinal marijuana legalization until further research better proves its viability as a treatment option. That position was one of several adopted at the group’s annual House of Delegates meeting late last month.

Supporters of medical marijuana are keeping the pressure on state House lawmakers who have remained cool to efforts to legalize the substance.

AP Photo/Gosia Wozniacka

As Pennsylvania lawmakers continue a long-standing debate over legalizing medicinal marijuana, one University of Pittsburgh study shows officials shouldn't overlook the importance of where those future clinics could crop up.

House GOP: Medical Marijuana Bill Isn't Dead Yet

Jun 9, 2015

A House GOP spokesman says the majority's lawmakers aren't giving up on a bill to legalize medical marijuana in Pennsylvania.

A plan to let doctors and nurse practitioners recommend different forms of marijuana for various ailments passed in the state Senate by a huge margin last month.

In the House, the bill's fate was always less certain. One problem popped up as soon as it was referred to the Health Committee: the panel's chairman, Rep. Matt Baker (R-Tiog), said he wouldn't put the measure to a vote.

Essential Pittsburgh: Pennsylvania's Push for Medical Marijuana

Jun 2, 2015
Mark / flickr

Legislation legalizing the use of cannabis extracts to address certain medical conditions has passed the state Senate by an overwhelming margin and is now being considered in the House of Representatives. Last year a similar measure passed the Senate but died in the House. Allegheny County representative Dan Frankel joins us to discuss where the legislation stands this year.  Also taking part in the conversation is  Vice President of the Pennsylvania Medical Society, Dr. Charles Cutler.

 In response to skeptics who claim not enough studies have been done to disprove negative health conditions, Representative Frankel cites the amount of studies done on an international level:

"We believe that there is great efficacy towards using medical marijuana to mitigate some of these conditions and relieve pain, and that that decision ought to be left between a doctor and a patient, as it has, in some form, in 23 states who have legalized it to some level." -Rep. Dan Frankel 

Dr. Cutler counters with the United States' lack of double-blind studies performed in order to ascertain medical marijuana's safety, claiming that the country's major medical institutions stand in favor of more research:

"We've seen over the years, a number of products that were quite helpful in terms of treating illnesses, but had such serious side effects that they were taken off the market... If the FDA, in their wisdom, would be willing to re-schedule marijuana to a category where research could be done...I think we could get the answer." -Dr. Charles Cutler 

Also, Theo Collins describes a new documentary highlighting the tragedy of veteran suicide, WESA Celebrates wooden streets with contributor Margaret J. Krauss and Rebecca Harris focuses in on the community of Crawford-Roberts.

Pennsylvania state senators have for the second time sent legislation to legalize various forms of medical marijuana to the House, where it faces an uncertain future.

The Senate voted 40-7 Tuesday.

It passed a similar bill last fall, but it died in the House. This latest version expands the number of eligible medical conditions to 15 and expands the methods of delivery to include vaporization along with oils, pills, liquids and gels.

Smoking it wouldn't be allowed.

The state Senate is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a proposal to legalize medical marijuana, a move that would send the measure to the House for the second time in two years.

The bill poised for a vote would allow doctors and nurse practitioners to recommend medical marijuana as treatment for more than a dozen ailments, including epilepsy, Crohn's disease and chronic pain.

AP Photo/Don Ryan, File

Heroin abuse has been on the rise in America, killing hundreds in Allegheny County last year. Public safety and public health officials are scratching their heads for a solution as nothing seems to be slowing down the drug.

Dr. Neil Capretto, medical director at Gateway Rehabilitation Center, said he’s watched the numbers grow.

“In 1985 there were 22 drug overdose deaths in Allegheny County," Capretto said. "Last year 2014, the count is already up to 299, they’re still working on those numbers. It’s probably going to be somewhat higher, and the vast majority of those are prescription medicine and heroin."

Medical Marijuana Plan Faces a Skeptical House

Apr 9, 2015

A series of hearings in the state House are making one thing clear: medical marijuana legalization in Pennsylvania is no done deal.

State senators overwhelmingly approved medical marijuana last session. The governor supports its legalization as well. A Quinnipiac University poll of Pennsylvanians last month showed 88 percent of respondents want medical marijuana legalized.

House members don't appear as quick to pass such a plan.

David Trawin / flickr

Support for legalizing medical marijuana is growing in Pennsylvania, according to a poll conducted by Robert Morris University.

The survey showed 67.5 percent of Pennsylvanians are in favor of legalizing medical marijuana, up from 56.1 percent in a similar RMU poll last year.

Medical Marijuana Hearing Prompts Tense Exchange

Feb 25, 2015
Dank Depot / flickr

The debate over medical marijuana legalization in Pennsylvania has long transcended political parties -- instead, it’s dividing people into groups that see marijuana’s medicinal possibilities and those waiting for more definitive research.  

Mary Wilson / 90.5 WESA

A bill to legalize medical marijuana in Pennsylvania is getting a second look Wednesday in the state Senate. It’s been about a year since the matter had its first hearing in the Legislature, and since then, it’s gone from a fringe issue to a center-stage policy debate.

Most people have attributed that progress to a group of mothers known as “mama bears,” who want medical marijuana to treat their very ill children.

Among them is Latrisha Bentch.  There was a time when her oldest daughter Anna was not sick but she was still just a little different.

House GOP Digs In For Medical Marijuana Hearings

Oct 8, 2014

State House lawmakers plan to hold at least one hearing on medical marijuana, which will likely put off any final votes on legalization until next year.
House GOP leaders say a Senate-backed plan to allow certain kinds of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania needs to be more thoroughly vetted before it’s lined up for a vote.
“What exactly does it do? Do you guys know what it does?” said House GOP spokesman Steve Miskin, addressing reporters. “Do you know it sets up a whole new bureaucracy and industry?”

Elizabeth Thomsen / via Flickr Creative Commons

 It's been a busy week in Harrisburg, PennLive and Patriot-News editorial and opinions Editor John Micek joins us to lay it all out.

Topics include: the eight former and current state officials alleged to be involved in an exchange of hundreds of racy emails using state computers, calls for protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Pennsylvanians and the Senate passing legislation to legalize certain kinds of marijuana.