Pennsylvania GOP senator introduces bill granting independent marijuana growers direct-to-patient sales licenses

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A Republican senator from Pennsylvania says he will soon introduce legislation to give independent producers of medical marijuana a chance to sell directly to patients — a reform he says is needed amid increased consolidation Of the industry.

In a co-sponsorship memo released last week, Senator Chris Gebhard (right) said his legislation would create a new licensing process, allowing any Pennsylvania-based ‘independent’ cannabis grower/processor to open dispensaries as vertically integrated companies.

Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana law currently states that only 25 companies can be licensed to grow and process marijuana, and only five of those licensees can sell directly to patients through vertically integrated dispensaries.

Gebhard said the Health Department’s current licensing rules have “created an unfair system for getting products to patients.”

“The most unbiased solution to this problem would be to issue two licenses to all Pennsylvania-based independent growers/processors who currently do not have one,” he wrote to his colleagues. “It will create a free and fair market and allow these businesses to operate on the same playing field as their competitors.”

While Pennsylvania has yet to enact adult use legalization, there are growing expectations that the state will eventually follow others in the region and begin allowing recreational sales. Some companies are feeling the pressure as anticipation for policy change builds, especially as wholesale marijuana prices fall and multistate operators continue to acquire smaller companies.

Pennsylvania’s cannabis law further states that companies with a retail license cannot operate more than 15 dispensaries, but this trend of corporate acquisitions has given certain stakeholders more influence in industry.

A health department spokesperson told the Tribune-Democrat in July that while the state’s medical cannabis law sets license limits, regulators cannot block stock transfers by licensees. permits, including “those used by multi-state operators in medical marijuana”. industry.”

Gebhard’s proposal would seek to ease this economic pressure for independent growers and processors by giving them the option of obtaining a secondary license to sell the product they grow, rather than selling to licensed distributors.


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Marijuana policy has also become a key campaign issue in Pennsylvania ahead of November’s midterm elections, particularly regarding the gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races.

Governor Tom Wolf (D) spoke in favor of legalization earlier in his term – a decision influenced in part by the advocacy of his lieutenant governor, John Fetterman (D) – and included a call to put in implement the reform in its budget proposal this year.

Now the race to replace Wolf is between pro-legalization attorney general Josh Shapiro, the Democratic nominee, and state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R), who is adamantly opposed to reform, calling legalization an “idea stupid” which had a negative impact on other states. .

Fetterman, for his part, is currently running for the Senate against the TV personality known as Dr. Oz. And despite support for cannabis legalization standing at 58% in Pennsylvania — and despite Oz’s own past comments about the need to fundamentally change federal marijuana laws — the Republican candidate attacked the US Rep. state for its defense of cannabis.

Although Wolf and Fetterman remain stationed in Harrisburg, they continue to work to right the wrongs of Prohibition. Last week, they announced the launch of a month-long marijuana pardon project to expedite relief for people with low-level cannabis convictions on their records.

Additionally, President Joe Biden and Fetterman briefly discussed marijuana policy reform at a meeting near Pittsburgh this month. This followed a statement from the lieutenant governor’s campaign calling on the president to use his executive power to decriminalize cannabis at the federal level.

(The White House was asked about Fetterman’s request, but said the administration had nothing new to announce at this point.)

Before Wolf endorsed marijuana legalization, the lieutenant governor also led a statewide listening tour to hear what residents had to say about the proposed policy. He touted his role in that tour on his Senate campaign website.

He also spoke about his work to “legalize weed for jobs, justice, veterans, farmers and income” in a fundraising email earlier this year.

Fetterman previously said farmers in his state can grow better marijuana than people in New Jersey — and that’s one reason Pennsylvania should quickly reform its cannabis laws.

In 2020, he hosted a virtual forum where he got advice on how to effectively implement a cannabis system from the lieutenant governors of Illinois and Michigan, who signed into law legalization.

The governor, who signed a medical cannabis expansion bill into law last year, has repeatedly called for legalization and pressured the Republican-controlled legislature to pursue reform since she spoke out in favor of the policy in 2019.

Last year, Wolf pardoned a doctor who had been arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned for growing marijuana he used to relieve his dying wife. It was his 96th pardon for those convicted of cannabis under an ongoing expedited review program for non-violent marijuana offenses.

More recently, the governor signed a bill that includes provisions to protect banks and state insurers who work with licensed medical marijuana businesses.

Missouri Court of Appeals keeps marijuana legalization on the ballot, but state Supreme Court could make final decision

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